2013 Brings Positive Change to Fisheries Program
Todd Turner, Assistant Regional Director of Fisheries. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Katie Steiger-Meister)
By Todd Turner
Assistant Regional Director, Fisheries
On December 21, the Director sent out an all employee message explaining some changes and evaluations of the Fisheries Program. There are two concurrent evaluations going on at this time.
The evaluation of the National Fish Hatchery System will allow the Fisheries Program to direct its limited resources to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s highest priorities. The evaluation team consists of Assistant Regional Directors of Fisheries and hatchery specialists from all of the Service’s regions.
Oversight of the team is provided by members of the Directorate and the Deputies Group. The review team is charged with looking at four budget scenarios, which include a budget increase of 5 percent, a flat budget, and budget reductions of 10 percent and 20 percent. The group is also tasked with looking at the staffing levels of our hatcheries, and to provide options to the Director by March 1, 2013.
At the same time, the entire Fisheries Program is undergoing a rewrite of its strategic plan. This effort is being led by the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council. The current strategic plan was implemented in 2003 and is overdue to be looked at and updated. Completion of this plan is scheduled for this spring.
What does this all mean to the Midwest Region? While there may be some small reductions in the regional hatchery program, over the past 15 years, the Midwest Region has transitioned the hatchery program to mostly restoration of native species and recovery of threatened and endangered species.
Lake trout from Jordan River National Fish Hatchery, in Elmira, Michigan. The National Fish Hatchery System review is not anticipated to have a major impact on operations at the Midwest Region’s six national fish hatcheries. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Katie Steiger-Meister)
We are therefore anticipating minimal impacts to our operations in the region. We will know more over the next couple of months. Ultimately, any changes that will be made will help to strengthen the fisheries program to deliver the aquatic conservation mission of the Service into the future.