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Opinions on Trout Stocking

As spring returns around the country, the NY Times recently published a short op-ed piece on trout stocking and potential negative consequences.

The full article is available here, but here are some pertinent quotes:

I reluctantly gave up fishing 10 years ago after I saw what a century of stocking nonnative fish was doing to the landscape I love.

Twenty-eight million Americans will buy freshwater fishing licenses this year. Eight million of them will be trout and salmon anglers. Native wild trout have mostly disappeared in the face of this immense fishing pressure. They have been replaced by nonnative hatchery fish and their river-born “wild” trout offspring. Nationwide, state and federal fisheries agencies dump some 130 million trout in lakes, rivers and streams each year. Although this stocking lures people outside, the hatcheries that produce these trout create environmental problems.

The author of the piece has given up angling after seeing what he perceives to be significant damage to native waters from stocking problems. He specifically sites the pollution produced by hatcheries and the impact that stocked fish have on native populations. Further, he advocates for eating a caught stocked fish rather than releasing it:

In the end, perhaps the most ethical approach for anglers would be to catch and consume nonnative wild and hatchery-produced game fish. Huge resources go into the production of farm-raised fish, after all, and at serious environmental costs. Conversely, it is more important than ever to protect wild populations of native fish with catch-and-release practices. Many states provide trout identification materials in their angler regulations. Establishing stricter limits and mandatory releases of native species whenever they are healthy enough to survive being hooked could help preserve the genetic integrity of aquatic environments.

Other organizations, such as the Pacific River Council, have taken aim at stocking and possible problems as well.

It's a hot topic in the community and certainly there are many different opinions on how helpful, or harmful, the practice of stocking is.

Our question for you today - do you have thoughts on stocking trout? Have you noticed positive or negative impact on the Northern Michigan area due to stocking of any fish?

Comments

  • Charlie Weaver

    i am a semi-retired fly fishing guide in northern Michigan--30 years on the AuSable, Manistee, and Pere Marquette Rivers. Fifty years ago i made a decision to remain in Michigan after finishing university, because there were a lot more wild trout here and a lot less people fishing for them than in my native state-Pennsylvania. I've never regretted that decision. I would suggest that if you want to fish for wild trout, come to Michigan. (And hire a guide.)

    Reply
  • Hi, awesome article. I just love the outdoors, fishing, hunting and camping. Folks spend much too much time inside watching the TV. Thanks for writing this and making us inspired.

    Reply
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