AUGUSTA, Maine -- Fishing and Tourism in Maine received a boost when voters approved a $7.0 million bond bill this past November, earmarking this money to the state's aging fish hatcheries. Funds from the bond will not only increase the number of fish raised in the state, but could give a boost to the state's economy as well. Work will begin this summer on improving Maine's hatchery system. "This is an important step forward in the revitalization of our fish hatchery system," said Commissioner Roland D. Martin.
In 2001, over 376,000 people spent time fishing in Maine. According to a 2001 study by the American Sportfishing Association, those anglers generated $322 million in retail sales, spent over $16 million in sales and fuel taxes, and over $20 million in state and federal income taxes. All told, those 376,000 anglers had an economic impact of over $541 million to the state of Maine in 2001.
The department has contracted with Fish Pro, an engineering and scientific firm from Springfield Illinois to oversee improvements at the six of the nine state fish hatcheries. Fish Pro has contracted Wright-Pierce of Maine to help coordinate the projects locally. Fish Pro is very familiar with the state's hatchery system, having worked on the Comprehensive Statewide Fish Hatchery System Engineering Study, which was sanctioned by the legislature.
Work is slated to begin this year, with oxygen boosting mechanisms at five of the nine state hatcheries in Maine. This will allow the department to increase the capability of these hatcheries to hold and grow not only more fish, but bigger as well. Work will also begin on improvements to the wastewater treatment systems at four of the facilities. By upping the capabilities of these hatcheries to treat wastewater, the department will be able to produce greater quantities of fish.
The last part of the plan is to redesign and rebuild the Emden Fish Hatchery. Not only will the oxygenation systems and the wastewater treatment systems be redesigned, the current raceway system will be demolished and replaced with a circular tank system that is more efficient. These improvements will vastly increase fish rearing capacity at Embden.
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