The controversial Senate Bill 1148 which spells out Fish and Game duties toward trout passed both the State Senate and Assembly last Friday. Views on the repercussions of this new law remain at odds. The bill has gone to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Former Mono County Senator Dave Cogdill, who grew up in Mono County, calls the bill a “monstrosity.” Cogdill said in his opinion the bill will mean that “CalTrout, Trout Unlimited and the larger environmental community will now, in effect, be in charge of the trout programs at the Department of Fish and Game.” Cogdill said he will pass on a more complete analysis soon. Cogdill did say that Inyo County Assemblywoman Connie Conway and Mono County Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen spoke against the bill on Friday. He said he would write Governor Brown to urge that he veto the bill. Cogdill added that he is confident that he will find a sympathetic author “to carry our own bill exposing this travesty for what it is.”
The Assembly Floor Analysis online says that SB 1148 underscores the “role of hatcheries and the importance of genetic diversity in managing California native trout species.” Much of the bill speaks to the importance of native trout. The Analysis said that the bill “requires priority to be given for stocking native hatchery-produced species where stocking is determined appropriate by Fish and Game.” The bill also requires that hatchery-produced trout be stocked “to support sustainable angling opportunities.” SB 1148 gives Fish and Game the ability to raise license fees to meet costs and says that the new law makes “numerous reforms to update Fish and Game’s hatcheries and wild trout programs.” The Analysis also says that the bill “reflects advancements in the scientific understanding of the impacts of hatchery practices on native fish populations and the importance of genetic diversity in maintaining wild self-sustaining populations.” It is unclear exactly what impact the bill will have on Eastern Sierra hatchery and trout-planting programs. Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan said, “We have no position on the bill and cannot comment on it until the Governor signs it.”
One of the supporters of the bill, the organization of CalTrout, had maintained that SB 1148 will not diminish funding for hatcheries. Their statement said that the bill “does not diminish funding for hatcheries, would reaffirm AB7’s establishment of the Heritage and Wild Trout program, would tell Fish and Game to stock fish in areas where they are most needed, and doesn’t harm the genetic integrity of existing wild trout populations.”