Public comment period reopened on Arizona fish stocking program

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February 17th, 2009

The public comment period for scoping has been reopened on Arizona’s sport-fish stocking program. Federal and state agencies are seeking assistance with identifying the extent and variety of issues that may be associated with fish stocking in the state.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department officials will use the public’s input as part of a draft environmental assessment process that is required to continue using federal funding for stocking activities in Arizona.

The deadline for submitting written comments is March 6. Written comments can be sent to either:

  • David Weedman, Aquatic Habitat Program Coordinator, Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086. E-mail:  fishaz@azgfd.gov, or to
  • Harold Namminga, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, P.O Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103.

Game and Fish has previously conducted three public open houses in Phoenix, Pinetop and Tucson, and collected 150 written comments. Previously submitted comments are being considered and need not be resent.

Once this latest comment period ends, the wildlife agencies will prepare a draft environmental assessment to evaluate the social, economic and environmental effects of stockings related to continue funding for the program through the Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Each year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks more than 3 million fish for anglers to catch in approximately 160 of Arizona’s lakes, rivers and streams – mostly rainbow, Apache, brook, and cutthroat trout, but some warmwater species such as largemouth bass and channel catfish as well.

The stocking program is supported with federal funds through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program, along with state funds from the sale of licenses and trout stamps.

State wildlife officials pointed out that recreational angling in Arizona totaled 4,156,000 angling days in 2006, creating a statewide economic impact of more than $1.1 billion annually. Thanks to back-to-back years of excellent winter precipitation and snow pack, Arizona officials are expecting increased user days this year as anglers take advantage of the improved fishing conditions.

Arizona’s natural fish fauna historically consisted of 36 species of fish, few of which were traditionally sought by early American or present-day anglers.

Since the early 1900s, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and other agencies have supplemented recreational angling opportunities by stocking state waters with sport fish species.

Although most of the trout species caught in Arizona likely come from fish hatcheries, most of the warmwater species in the state – especially those in the larger impoundments such as Roosevelt Lake – come from natural reproduction.

The federal funding apportioned to Arizona is authorized under the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act, commonly referred to as the Dingell-Johnson Act and Wallop-Breaux Act. It provides federal aid to state wildlife agencies for management and restoration of sport fish.

These Sport Fish Restoration funds are derived from a federal excise tax at the manufacturing level on certain items of sport-fishing tackle, fishing equipment and motor boat fuel.

For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/fishea.

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