Rep. Gosar Grills Fish and Wildlife Service Over Hatchery Closures

For Immediate Release
Date: July 23, 2014

 

Contact: Steven D. Smith
Steven.Smith@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Subcommittee held a legislative hearing on his legislation H.R. 5026, the Fish Hatchery Protection Act:

“The Deputy Director for the Fish and Wildlife Service looked like a fish out of water when trying to explain why the Service did not have a public comment period and did not consider job losses or associated economic impact before terminating important recreational fishing programs throughout the country.

“We heard testimony today from Chairman Angius that nearly 1,700 jobs in Mohave County and nearly $75 million in economic output associated with the Willow Beach Hatchery are at risk as a result of the recent termination of the hatchery’s rainbow trout stocking program.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is attempting to unilaterally turn our National Fish Hatchery System into an endangered species recovery program. This is extremely misguided as several of the hatcheries affected were constructed more than 50 years ago for the sole purpose of offsetting the loss of native fisheries resulting from the construction of federal dams, including Willow Beach.

“While most answers from the Fish and Wildlife Service today defied commonsense, I was pleased to hear the Deputy Director’s answer to my question about the future of the rainbow trout stocking program at the Willow Beach Hatchery in which he stated 'I believes we would, yes' reinstate the rainbow trout stocking program following the repair of a broken water supply line.” 

Testimony Highlights:

Rep. Gosar: Mr. Gordon, Was there a public comment period prior to changing the priorities for the propagation programs with the release of the November report?  Yes or No?

Deputy Director Guertin: No.

Rep. Gosar: By the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own estimates, the National Fish Hatchery System returns $289 to the national economy for every dollar spent and $3.6 billion to our economy annually. Does the Service consider the impacts to local economies before terminating recreational fishing propagation programs?

Deputy Director Guertin: Under the vision in the report…

Rep. Gosar: Yes or no?  I mean, yes or no?  Either you do or you don’t.

Deputy Director Guertin: It did not.

Rep. Gosar: In our dialogue before, you said that the Service doesn’t consider jobs.  So the 1,700 jobs in Mohave County and $75 million in economic output associated with the Willow Beach Hatchery, that’s now in jeopardy as a result of terminating the trout stocking program and the annual production of 150,000…rainbow trout, that just don’t matter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?

Deputy Director Guertin: Well, certainly it matters.  These are jobs for our fellow citizens…

Rep. Gosar: But wait a minute, you said it doesn’t matter. I mean, earlier, you testified that it just is never put into the equation.  4,000 jobs and $[80] million in payroll.  Does the Fish and Wildlife Service, once again, consider these figures before terminating rainbow trout stocking programs?

Deputy Director Guertin: If we use the report as it’s currently written, it wouldn’t be one of the factors.

Rep. Gosar: Yes or no?

Deputy Director Guertin: No.

Rep. Gosar: Boy, I mean, this is absurd to me.

Rep. Gosar: The Fish and Wildlife Service stated in a letter to this Subcommittee sent on May 30, 2014 that the reason for terminating the rainbow trout stocking program at the time was that the agency didn’t have the 1.5 to 8.5 million dollars to repair a broken water [supply] line and to keep the trout stocking program going…  Recent engineering reports indicate that these estimates were a gross exaggeration and that the broken water [supply] line would only cost around $100,000 to fix. If the water, now listen very carefully, if the water supply line is fixed, does the Fish and Wildlife Service plan to reinstate the trout propagation program at the Willow Beach Hatchery?

Deputy Director Guertin: I believe we would, yes.

Rep. Gosar: Oooh. Great. I’m liking that.

The video of Congressman Gosar’s opening statement can be viewed HERE.
The video of Congressman Gosar’s first line of questions can be viewed HERE.
The video of Congressman Gosar’s second line of questions can be viewed HERE.

Background:

Subcommittee Chairman John Fleming and Rep. Rick Crawford testified in strong support of the Gosar legislation. In addition, two Arizona witnesses testified in strong support of the bill; Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Hildy Angius and Chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Robert Mansell. The video of Supervisor Hildy Angius testimony can be viewed HERE. 

The Fish Hatchery Protection Act, H.R. 5026, will preserve propagation fish hatcheries and propagation programs within the National Fish Hatchery System and stipulates that only the Congress can authorize the termination or significant alteration of such facilities or programs.

Recreational fishing propagation programs generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of private and public investment from non-federal entities. In 2011, recreational fishing supported nearly 365,000 jobs and contributed more than $70 billion to our economy.

H.R. 5026 has strong bipartisan support and current cosponsors of the bill include: Former Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV), Doug Collins (R-GA), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Phil Roe (R-TN), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Joe Heck (R-NV).

The bill has also been endorsed by: The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the American Sportfishing Association and the Mohave County Board of Supervisors.

Trout Unlimited also had some nice things to say about the bill in a letter to Rep. Gosar. That letter can be viewed HERE.