From: The Honorable Paul A. Gosar
Sent By: jeff.small@mail.house.gov
Date: 7/15/2014

H.R. 5026, the Fish Hatchery Protection Act
Prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from arbitrarily killing jobs and harming local economies

Cosponsors: Doug Collins (R-GA), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Phil Roe (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Joe Heck (R-NV) and Mike Michaud (D-ME)

Dear Colleague:

This important legislation will preserve propagation fish hatcheries and propagation programs within the National Fish Hatchery System and stipulates that only the Congress can authorize the termination of such facilities or programs.

In November 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service released its “Strategic Hatchery and Workforce Planning Report.” With the release of this report, the Administration arbitrarily changed the priorities for the five different propagation program categories and announced their intent to close fish hatcheries throughout the nation in fiscal year 2015. As a result of this administrative decision important recreational fishing propagation programs have been terminated or slated for termination and the top two propagation program categories which direct funds towards species conservation are now receiving essentially all the funding from the Hatchery System.

This is extremely misguided as several of the hatcheries affected were constructed more than 60 years ago for the sole purpose of offsetting the loss of native fisheries resulting from the construction of federal dams. The recreational fishing propagation programs that are on the Fish and Wildlife’s hit list are the only hatchery programs that generate any substantive revenues for local economies. The trout stocking propagation programs in Arkansas and Oklahoma are so successful that a recent economic analysis found that for “every $1 of hatchery operational budget spent, $95 was put back into the economy.”

Our National Fish Hatchery System has already been reduced from nearly 140 hatcheries to 70. In addition, the recreational fishing propagation programs generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of private and public investment from non-federal entities. States have recognized the importance of these economic engines and continue to put forth significant investments, assist with stocking and partner with federal hatcheries to preserve recreational fishing propagation programs.

At a March 5, 2014 Natural Resources hearing, witnesses agreed with the need for a “robust National Fish Hatchery System” that includes recreational fishing propagation programs. Congressman John Fleming, Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs, stated, “In 2011, recreational anglers took 69 million trips, they caught 345 million fish, supported 364,000 jobs and the recreational fishing industry contributed over $70 billion to our economy.”

A local county supervisor from my district, Hildy Angius, recently testified before the Appropriations Committee about the importance of preserving recreational propagation programs for fishing. Supervisor Angius stated that recreational fishing in her county supports almost 1,700 jobs and has an annual impact of almost $75 million annually for her county’s economy.

The local hatchery in Supervisor Anguis’ county was instructed by the Fish and Wildlife Service to focus on producing suckers and other fish that do not attract anglers or generate revenues for local economies and to terminate its recreational fishing propagation program. Being that this particular hatchery was created over 50 years ago for the sole purpose of producing rainbow trout for sport fishing, this directive is particularly deplorable, destructive, and nonsensical.

By the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own estimates, the National Fish Hatchery System returns $28 to the national economy for every dollar spent and $3.6 billion to our economy annually. That is an excellent return on investment, and yet, the Fish and Wildlife Service is still trying to close or repurpose recreational fishing propagation programs and hatcheries throughout the nation.

Unfortunately, the Fish and Wildlife Service either does not get it or simply wants to focus on their own misguided agenda. When asked at a Capitol Hill briefing on the subject whether he considered the $28 dollar return to local economies for every dollar invested, the representative for the Fish and Wildlife Service stated that is “not something that factors into their decision making.”

These actions are shortsighted and the Administration should not be terminating important recreational fishing propagation programs that are in many instances, the driving force for rural economies.

My bill includes a 10-year sunset provision and is retroactive to November 1, 2013, prior to the date when the Fish and Wildlife Service publically announced their intent to terminate these important propagation programs and hatcheries. This legislation will preserve jobs, strengthen local economies and ensure the continuation of vibrant recreational fishing economies throughout the nation.

Should you have any questions or to add your support please contact Jeff Small in my office at jeff.small@mail.house.gov.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.

Sincerely,

Paul A. Gosar
Member of Congress