Douglas Thompson talks. The American Fisheries Society listens — and responds.

“The Cost of Trout Fishing,” a recent op-ed piece by Douglas Thompson in the New York Times (Thompson 2015), included several inaccurate statements and fundamental misunderstandings of fisheries management and aquaculture.

Those words are taken from an article recently published by the AFS. Here’s a pdf of the entire article. Note a source citing  some of our own DEEP folks.

AFS Responds to an Op-ed in the New York Times 2015-2

A beautiful winter Survivor Strain brown. Thanks, DEEP, for your excellent work on the Farmington River.

2:14 SS Brown

11 comments on “Douglas Thompson talks. The American Fisheries Society listens — and responds.

  1. Jim Smith says:

    WAY TO GO, STEVE!!!!!!!

  2. Jim Smith says:

    Steve, I hope the good folks over at the Rivers Alliance will take the opportunity to read this. Good show! Thanks, Steve.

  3. RM Lytle says:

    I have to say I agree. The DEEP has done a great job on the Farmington and numerous other streams. But I have seen some ignorance about a few streams I love, and I know for a fact that the state’s management methods on them are hurting, not helping.

  4. david bennett says:

    Thx for the article.

  5. I’ll express a slightly differing viewpoint. As an avid angler and conservationist I am a fan of Doug’s work (and in full disclosure I have come to know Doug since his book was published) and I support it as do many other anglers and many fisheries biologists who have responded positively to both Doug’s book and his Op-Ed piece in the NY Times. Debate is healthy and it is certainly fair for the AFS to challenge Doug’s statements on the basis of accuracy. The AFS response raises some valid criticisms to Doug’s Op-Ed piece. However it is also fair to challenge some highly inaccurate statements made in the AFS response. I’ll point out two examples of such statements. First, the statement is made in the third paragraph that “if wild populations are strong and self-sustaining they are generally no longer stocked”. This is certainly true is some progressive states like MA where fisheries managers have made the decision to stop stocking despite political pressure from anglers to continue, but in other states like NY and RI, fisheries managers continue to stock invasive hatchery trout willy-nilly on top of wild brook trout populations forcing already stressed native trout populations to compete with an invasive species. There is a reason that organizations such was the Wild Fish Conservancy NW, The Pacific Rivers Council, Protect Rhode Island Brook Trout, the Big Spring Watershed Association, and others have sprung up to do battle with state DNR agencies on this issue. There is a reason that Trout Unlimited recently formulated a policy at the national level, under guidance from fisheries biologists, about the stocking of hatchery trout on top of native populations. It’s because many, but not all, state DNR agencies continue to stock hatchery fish on top of native populations in order to appease anglers. The AFS reply chose not to acknowledge this fact. Another inaccurate statement made in the AFS response is that hatchery effluent is compliant with EPA regulations in the form of NPDES discharge permits. While this is technically correct in many cases, the AFS response is being disingenuous at best. NPDES permits are typically concerned with protecting the waters drinkability and not the health of aquatic communities. The discharge standards needed to protect benthic invertebrate communities are substantially stricter than what the EPA mandates for drinkable water. And in many states NPDES permits are little more than a joke and are regularly issued under political pressure. This is why the NY DEC has just issued a SPDES permit (the NY implementation of the EPA NPDES permit) to allow the Connetquot River Hatchery run by NY State Parks to reopen as a run-of-the-river hatchery with no treatment whatsoever. Under the recently issued SPDES permit the effluent from the Connetquot Hatchery, including the pharmaceuticals in the fish food, will continue to be dumped directly into the river just upstream of a waterway that is already on the 303(d) impaired waters list under the Clean Water Act. Nor does the AFS response acknowledge the decades long battle that was fought (largely by anglers) to force the PA Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) to close it’s Big Spring Hatchery because of the damage its treated (yes treated!) effluent caused to Big Spring, which was once Pennsylvania’s premiere wild brook trout fishery. It was only after years of fighting that the PFBC has acknowledged that “the existing discharge from Big Spring FCS must be improved” despite the fact that it was fully compliant with the NPDES permit and that a closed-circulation no-discharge hatchery was needed in order to protect the aquatic health of the stream. It was only after the publication of peer-reviewed scientific research on the effects of hatchery effluent that PFBC chose to yield on this issue. It’s unfortunate that the AFS response chose only to criticize the points on which they disagreed with Doug and did choose to acknowledge the many valid points he raises.

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