California agrees to limit trout stocking
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
SACRAMENTO, Calif. ” The California Department of Fish and Game will stop adding millions of hatchery-raised trout to many of the state’s mountain rivers and lakes, according to a deal announced Thursday.
The agreement was reached between the state and two environmental groups as part of a 2006 lawsuit over declines in native fish and frogs.
Noah Greenwald, a conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said limiting the number of trout will preserve native species while the state prepares a more comprehensive environmental review of its fish-stocking programs.
The deal prohibits stocking where 16 native fish species and nine frog species are found. It allows stocking programs in all large reservoirs and smaller ones not connected to rivers.
“A trout is the top-level predator,” Greenwald said. “It’s like going out in the woods and stocking a bunch of mountain lions.”
Jordan Traverso, a spokeswoman for the Department of Fish and Game, said the agreement will go before a Sacramento County Superior Court judge on Monday for approval. She declined Thursday to comment on the agreement.
The department has argued that curtailing the century-old practice will affect recreational fishing.
“Our stocking program has important benefits to many small businesses and communities that depend on fishing,” director Donald Koch said in a statement earlier this month.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette last year found that the department’s stocking program had contributed to declines in native fish and frogs. They include the mountain yellow-legged frog, Cascades frog, California golden trout, McCloud River redband trout and Santa Ana sucker.
He ordered the department to evaluate how the addition of trout affects native species, but the review has not been yet completed as quickly as expected.
As a result, Marlette instructed the department earlier this month to negotiate with the Pacific Rivers Council and Center for Biological Diversity on a temporary fish stocking program while it completes the study.
A spokesman at California Trout said the group had not yet reviewed the agreement.
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