Lawmakers react to fish re-stocking plan - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers react to fish re-stocking plan

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

DNR officials said a new $13 million dollar initiative to expand walleye production in Wisconsin will improve the fisheries.

"The larger fish, these six to eight inch fall fingerlings, will definitely survive better than of course, a fry stocking or a small fingerling," said DNR Fisheries Biologist, Tom Meronek.

Our area has already seen two major fish kills in the past five years on the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir, one in 2009 and one this spring.

"In the future, we're going to be trying to restore that population, it may involve some stocking, it may not," said Meronek.

Governor Walker wants to produce more walleye fingerlings at state, private and tribal fish hatcheries. His plan would eventually increase annual production at least four-fold, to more than 500,000 fingerlings by 2016.

State Senator Tom Tiffany said it's the right step in replenishing the top walleye fishing lakes.

"One of the key components of this is to ramp up private aqua culture and allow them to do the work of raising fish to be able to stock in our northern lakes," said Sen. Tiffany.

But State Representative Mandy Wright said she has reservations about the plan.

"I don't think most people want to be going and fishing fish out of fish hatcheries, they want to be fishing fish out of lakes and streams and if our lakes and streams are unhealthy, we won't be able to be fishing out of them, the fish will die anyway," said Rep. Wright.

DNR officials said the money to grow more walleye for restocking will come from state tax revenue and bonds from DNR accounts.

No one from the DNR was available to go into more detail.

Walker's plan calls for spending $8.2 million dollars to expand hatchery capacities.

Whether to spend more money for more walleye is still a big talking point among some lawmakers.

"This has the potential to help a lot of businesses, especially in northern Wisconsin," said Sen. Tiffany.

"It's all about priorities, and that means we're not spending on education, we're not spending on health care, we're not spending on creating jobs," said Rep. Wright.

DNR officials said they expect to see results from the initiative as early as this fall.

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