Fisheries Advisory Council Meeting In Short (June 9, 2016)

Fisheries Advisory Council Meeting In Short (June 9, 2016)

Since I was invited to join the Connecticut Fisheries Advisory Council (FAC) in 2015, I have tried to keep our readers updated with the important issues that are at hand as I receive the information. I have decided that the best way to keep our readers and community in the know is to share a brief report about our quarterly meetings with pertinent information that may be of interest to the Connecticut fishing community. I will not discuss “rumors” unless there is an educational value or public feedback that may be needed for an issue.

In our most recent FAC meeting, held on June 9, 2016, we discussed the budget situation in depth and touched base on a few potential changes that may be coming the way of the Connecticut DEEP to appease their part in the budget crisis as well as meet the departments individual situational needs.


HIGHLIGHTS 

In the most recent budget agreement it was determined that the DEEP was responsible to shed itself of about $9M across the entire department, from approximately $65M down to approximately $56M.

  1. The commissioner vows no lay offs.
  2. Of that approx. $9M, between $3M-$3.5M will be coming from retirements.
  3. The Bureau of Natural Resources (BNR) is responsible for approximately $800,000 in cuts.
  4. The state has a hiring freeze in place.
  5. All changes/potential changes within the fisheries department are reversible if the fortunes of the state somehow make a drastic recovery. Management deserves a pat on the back for thinking forward in this case and not just looking at numbers.

CHANGES/POTENTIAL CHANGES

  1. Kensington hatchery supervisor, Al Sonski, is retiring as has been planned for some time now. This is not due to budget cuts but rather has been speculated for some time now.
  2. Kensington hatchery will become a satellite facility to Burlington hatchery
    1. Due to the hiring freeze, retiring supervisor and lack of employees
    2. Kensington will maintain the Atlantic Salmon program and salmon in the classroom program
    3. Cortland trout strain raised in Kensington will be cut by about 50%
    4. Seeforellen-strain brown trout program will be discontinued
      1. While this was a tough decision to make, the fisheries department did secure the potential for future re-establishment. The state of Maine will receive a full batch of eggs from Connecticut to establish their program with what they call the only strain of seeforellen in the country that is safe from contamination and disease. This bodes well for our future if Connecticut is ever able to establish this program again.

Quinebaug hatchery has cut production while the facility is updated. Previous practices of maintenance on the wells and trout ponds have not proved to be successful, forcing the hatchery to run at a very poor production and quality level over recent months. Due to some research they have learned of a new technique (injection of liquid CO2) to better maintain these wells and ponds….this process is currently underway. Production has been reduced as they rotate maintenance of the facility. Worse case,  100k catchable size trout annually could be the loss, the fisheries department is hoping for much less. “It depends in part (but certainly not completely) on the success of our well cleaning schedule” says Pete Aarrestad, Director of Inland Fisheries.


Squantz Pond may be receiving grass carp, a public hearing took place on June 9, 2016. We will keep you updated as we receive future details.


In an update on the Marine Fisheries Division, we were informed that there will be some major retirements hitting the division in the next three months to year or so. David Simpson, Director of Marine Fisheries, is one that will be retiring come September. With a hiring freeze in place the department will not be able to hire a replacement, from within or outside. What does this mean?

  1. The Marine Fisheries Division staff will go from 14 to somewhere in the 8 to 10 range within the next year or so due to planned retirements and staff moving on with their lives, leaving on their own. This is potentially devastating to the division so all options and scenarios are being discussed internally. As more information is made available we will be sure to get the details to you.

I apologize for the photo quality, these were taken from the reports I received at the meeting and scanned to my computer. Click on the photo to open the gallery.

 

 

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