WisconsinAquaculture.com - 6 Private & 3 Tribal Hatcheries Get Walleye Production Grants
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6 Private & 3 Tribal Hatcheries Get Walleye Production Grants

Weekly News article published: April 1, 2014 by the Central Office

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MADISON - Six private and three tribal fish hatcheries will get a total of $2 million in one-time grants for projects that will increase their capacity to produce larger walleye for stocking in Wisconsin by 470,000 fish per year, state fisheries officials say.

The hatcheries are receiving the grants from the Department of Natural Resources as part of a competitive grant process funded through the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative.

"This is a big victory for everybody who loves walleye," says DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "These grants invest in shovel-ready projects that will expand the capacity of private and tribal hatcheries to produce larger walleye for stocking in Wisconsin's waters well into the future."

Grant recipients are required to stock walleye produced in their new facilities into Wisconsin waters, and DNR has received $500,000 through the initiative to buy 1 million of these larger fish. Almost 200,000 of these should be available for stocking this fall from grant recipients whose projects will be completed this year, with the rest coming as projects are completed through 2018.

The grant awards are an important part of Wisconsin's plan to boost walleye fishing by stocking more of the larger walleye in lakes where natural reproduction isn't sufficient. The plan, known as the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, is a $12 million funding package developed by Gov. Scott Walker and DNR to boost walleye stocking statewide of the larger fish known as "extended growth" walleye.

Such fish, which are 6 to 8 inches long, have been shown to survive at significantly higher rates in some settings than the 1.5 to 2-inch fish typically stocked. DNR's stocking strategy is to stock these larger walleye in some walleye waters with the hope of restoring naturally reproducing populations, and in others to increase walleye numbers in lakes that will continue to rely on stocking to provide fishing opportunities.

The initiative was funded by the Legislature for two years and provides increased operating funds to DNR grow the larger, more expensive fish; allows for $8 million in upgrades at state hatcheries; invests in expanding capacity at private and tribal hatcheries; and provides money for DNR to purchase larger walleye for stocking from private and tribal hatcheries.

Already, the extra funding the initiative provided in 2013 enabled state hatcheries to produce more than four times the typical number of larger walleye for stocking in fall 2013.

The competitive grant program for private and tribal hatcheries required applicants to submit proposals including the number of fish they will produce and the price, and to commit to stocking those within Wisconsin for at least three years.

Grant recipients are required to stock walleye produced in their new facilities into Wisconsin waters, and DNR has received $500,000 through the initiative to buy 1 million of these larger fish. Almost 200,000 of these should be available for stocking this fall from grant recipients whose projects will be completed this year, with the rest coming as projects are completed through 2018.

The 13 applications DNR received for the hatchery capacity grants were reviewed by a technical review panel that included DNR staff with expertise in walleye and cool-water species hatchery production and management, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fisheries expert and a University of Wisconsin - Extension fisheries expert.

Applicants were ranked based on criteria including their experience in raising walleye or other cool-water fish, cost effectiveness, and having a shovel-ready project that would significantly increase their production of walleye.

The hatcheries receiving the grants and the grant amounts are:

  • Gollon Bait and Fish Farm, Dodgeville, $423,535
  • Northside Enterprises, Black Creek, $136,344
  • Coolwater Farms, LLC, Deerfield, $76,600
  • Sokaogon Chippewa Community, $298,900
  • Hayward Bait and Bottle Shoppe, Hayward, $125,000
  • Central Wisconsin Fish Farm, LLC, Stevens Point, $29,841
  • St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, $283,255
  • Taal Lake Hatchery, New London, $194,371
  • Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, $432,154

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Staggs, 608-267-0796; Brian Goodman, (608) 267-0848; Heidi Nelson, 608-267-7499; Jeff Soellner, 608-267-7152

 

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