The Aquaculture Culture (from Dirt Roads and Blue Lines)
This is too good to let pass. My friend, Chase Howard, restarted and rejuvenated his blog, Dirt Roads and Blue Lines. And recently, he penned a short commentaryon the state of the stocked vs wild trout situation in Pennsylvania.
Chase calls the stocked trout syndrome “The Aquaculture Culture,” and his choice of words is appropriate. There truly is an ingrained culture. Many Pennsylvanians have grown to expect (and feel they deserve) stocked trout in their local creeks, not because the creek can’t support wild trout and not because there isn’t already a wild trout population that would thrive if given a chance. No, the Aquaculture Culture expects and downright demands stocked trout in the creek because that’s the way it’s always been (in their lifetime).
As I’ve argued countless times here on Troutbitten, stocked trout do have a place in Pennsylvania. Our state hatcheries could continue to raise trout and stock them in streams that cannot and do not already support wild trout. I’m thankful for stocked trout. I caught my limit of stocked fish today — I gutted them, filleted them, breaded and fried them. And my sons and I had fresh trout for supper. The fish came from a put-and-take, local stream that becomes far too warm in the summers for a wild trout population to thrive.
But in Chase’s region of Northern PA, where the water is cold and the woods are wild, there are too many creeks stocked with hatchery trout simply to follow a historic precedent — and because the culture expects it.
As Chase writes . . .
Can you imagine the fishery we would have in the state of Pennsylvania if instead of spending in excess of $12 million annually on raising hatchery fish (a small percentage of which survive their first summer) the bulk of spending budget went toward habitat improvement, fish migration studies, and otherwise protecting, conserving, and enhancing our aquatic resources? Imagine all of the funds from the last 50 years improving the health of our rivers instead of the short-sighted perpetuity of put-and-take fisheries. What would the state of our rivers be?