Hatchery legislation awaits decision
The Mono County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to California Senator Darrell Steinberg (Senate President Pro Tem) this week opposing SB 1148, which continues to linger in the final days of voting on the Assembly Floor as the Legislature nears recess at the end of this month.
According to retired State Senator Dave Cogdill, SB 1148, sponsored by CalTrout, would shift funding prioritization away from hatcheries to wild and native trout programs. Cogdill worked hard to get Assembly Bill 7 passed in 2005, which supported hatcheries by creating the Hatchery and Inland Fishery Fund (HIFF). AB 7 dedicates 33 and 1/3 percent of the sport fishing license revenue to HIFF to support California’s fish hatcheries, the Heritage and Wild Trout Program, and other eligible activities. Cogdill believes SB 1148 would negate much of what AB 7 stands for by shifting priorities and funds to wild and native fish programs rather than hatcheries.
CalTrout on the other hand, has stated that nothing could be farther from the truth.
“CalTrout worked closely with then-Senator Cogdill to pass AB 7 in 2005,” stated CalTrout Conservation Director Curtis Knight in a recent letter to the editor. “That legislation set current hatchery production goals and funded the Heritage and Wild Trout program. Unfortunately the hatchery production goals set forth in AB 7 are not being met and the Heritage and Wild Trout program is still underfunded. By contrast, SB 1148 supports the hatchery goals set by AB 7 (it looks for a more efficient means of meeting them, including the use of private hatcheries), adequately staff and funds the Heritage and Wild Trout program, and proposes comprehensive management practices for all trout populations.”
The two sides have attempted to negotiate on the language of the bill, but as of the end of last week talks had broken down.
In an email, Cogdill stated, “Make no mistake about it, if SB 1148, as written, becomes law it is a major victory for Cal Trout, DFG, and environmental interests in general and a detriment to the general angling public.”
CalTrout had hopes that the bill would pass the legislature and head to the Governor’s desk by the end of this week.
In its letter to Steinberg, the Mono County Board of Supervisors stated its support of the long-term sustainability of the State Hatchery System by strengthening AB 7. The letter pointed to the closure of June Mountain as an extra need to support local angling.
“Our local economy can ill-afford another major setback with diminished hatchery trout production,” the letter stated.
The letter also reminded Steinberg that AB 7 was intended to provide the dedicated funding to the Department of Fish and Game to refocus on hatcheries while concurrently allocating up to $2 million annually to Heritage and Wild Trout programs.
“Most fishing license holders believe that their license dollars go toward making sure there are ample fish in California’s lakes and streams so that ALL anglers can enjoy a high quality fishing experience,” the letter said.
According to Cogdill, the list of influential opponents of SB 1148 bill is lengthy, but the vote would still be a close call.
If SB 1148 passes, the next and final effort for those in opposition would be to work for the Governor’s veto.