Alpers opposes DFG fish stocking proposal

The California Department of Fish and Game will meet in November to vote on a controversial measure that some say will impact private fish stocking operations throughout the Eastern Sierra.

Specifically, the measure would require any entity in the state that stocks its waters from a private or state-run fishery to pay for an environmental study to ensure the fish do not interfere with, or cause harm to, one of 87 species under concern.

While the DFG says Eastern Sierra operations will not be impacted, local fish farmers aren’t convinced.

Tim Alpers, local fishing advocate and aqua-farmer of the prized rainbow trout that bear his last name, has sent out letters stating that the measure could stifle next year’s planting season, affecting all of Inyo and Mono counties as well as the entire state.

Alpers says the measure would require concessionaires and others utilizing stocked fish to pay for an environmental impact report before stocking can resume.

“Currently there is no such company or biologist in the area qualified to do these EIRs,” Alpers wrote.

However, the person who presented the measure to the DFG board says it will have no effect on local waters.

Curtis Milliron, local senior biologist for DFG, gave the findings and made the request to the DFG Commission in San Diego in October.

He said the request is to require the removal of stocking permit exemptions for 37 counties, located mostly in Central California.

He explained that concessionaires and others in Inyo and Mono have always paid for stocking permits. He said “virtually all concessionaires” were issued permits this year, just prior to the season opener when DFG was required, by court order, to survey area waters prior to stocking.

Through the decision of a 2007 lawsuit filed against DFG, the agency had to complete EIRs on waters before stocking would be permitted. The DFG was frantically approving as many accessible waters as possible days before the opener.

Alpers said that he and other aquaculturists think the ruling could and should be “summarily dismissed.” Alpers said that the EIRs, done just prior to the 2010 opener “had a serious impact on the Mono economy.” Alpers said that Silver Lake along the June Lake Loop was not open for angling until June 15.

He said that concessionaires and other recreational water managers must “do our diligence so we don’t get blindsided like we did last year.”