A voter-approved bond issue will pay for the project, the first in more than

50 years.

PORTLAND (AP) – The state has begun the first overhaul of its fish hatchery system in more than a half century, a $7 million project that will provide more fish for Maine’s 375,000 licensed anglers.

A voter-approved bond issue will pay for the renovations, but wildlife officials are concerned about how the state will pay for additional staff needed to run the refurbished hatcheries.

State hatchery director Steve Wilson couldn’t estimate the cost, but said increased production means more work and requires increased staffing. Even before the improvements are completed, current staff will be forced to work overtime, he said.

The goal of the project is to nearly double the 250,000 pounds of fish that the hatchery system currently produces.

The overhaul is the hatchery system’s first since 1950 and will include improvements to oxygenation systems and upgrades for handling waste. The rest of the money will pay for renovating the fish rearing station in Embden.

None of the bond money can be used to pay for staffing.

The Embden renovation will begin by June, Wilson said, and the hatchery will be shut down. The other eight hatcheries will work around the renovations.

Biologists from the hatcheries drive stocking trucks to remote ponds and lakes every year, but this year they’ll have less time to get the job done. Wilson said that means working overtime that isn’t in the budget.

Workers likely will get compensatory time, but that means hatcheries will be short-staffed at some point.

To allow the oxygenation systems to be built this spring, all the hatcheries will have to clear out fish that are ready to stock, said Greg Bell, who works at the Dry Mills Hatchery in Gray.

The plan is to have all the fish stocked as much as a month early so oxygenation systems can be replaced during a two-week span, he said.



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.