Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife faces 15% budget cuts – salmon and trout hatcheries to close

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“Why cut something that’s going to generate sales tax?”. State faces large cuts to salmon and trout production.

The Lens reports that the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is facing deep cuts to its hatchery capacities, mandated by Governor Jay Inslee.

The Governor’s Office of Financial Management provided budget development instructions to state agencies, asking them to identify 15 per-cent reduction – around USD 24 million in spending cuts – in State General Fund. For WDFW, those reductions include:

USD 5.2 million slashed from salmon and steelhead hatchery production as well as USD 2 million from trout hatchery production.

“Under the proposed budget reduction plan, six salmon and steelhead hatcheries would be closed, while four trout hatcheries would be closed. The result would be a 7.2 per-cent and 12.3 per-cent reduction in statewide salmon and trout production, respectively. As part of the budget cuts, hatchery maintenance and repairs for critical infrastructure would be reduced by 32 percent,” wrote The Lens.

The publication reported that Commissioner Dave Graybill said fewer fishing opportunities would “reduce our ability to sell licenses when we reduce the amount of fish being produced both inland and on Puget Sound and the coast. Wherever these occur it’s going to create ill will.”

Commissioner Don McIsaac asked, “why cut something that’s going to generate sales tax?”

“The lack of sales tax is why we’re in this problem. (We) cut $2 million and then cut another $5 million because of the impacts to the state on sales tax,” added McIsaac.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife operates dozens of fish hatcheries around the state with fish raised for sport fishing as well as commercial fishing.