Senate overrides veto on fish health bill

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From State Senator Jason Atkinson Office,

Salem – The Senate voted 27  to 1 on Thursday to override Governor Ted Kulongoski’s veto of Senate Bill 545.  The successful veto override expresses the will of the Oregon Senate that the executive branch seriously consider the benefits of producing trout in pathogen free waters that could reduce the costs and improve the quality of hatchery raised fish.

“Oregon has a remarkable opportunity to use our resources and dramatically strengthen fish populations,” said Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point), one of the bill’s sponsors.

The bill would require the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to compare financial pro forma statements on the feasibility of producing healthy trout at state owned hatcheries versus feasibility of producing healthy trout at the Desert Springs Trout Farm if it came under ownership of ODFW.  Desert springs owns an unparalleled source of pure artesian water.  Senate Bill 545 was designed to provide a more ideal environment for trout production and distribution in order to increase the quantity and quality of trout in Oregon streams.

“Fishing in Oregon’s streams and rivers is one of our state’s great legacies,” said Senator Frank Morse (R-Albany), another sponsor of the bill.  “This bill is in the best tradition of ingenuity and conservation, and I believe it is an important part of protecting and restoring our fish runs.”

Senate Bill 545 was part of a package of two bills crafted by Atkinson and Morse to help bolster fish populations across Oregon.  The other bill, Senate Bill 472, will begin a pilot project through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to work with local communities and conservation groups in establishing an incubator program on the Rogue River.  Incubators are special protective boxes that protect and incubate eggs within the river until they hatch.  A $45 incubator can hatch 1,000 eggs at a time.  Survival rates of eggs to fry stage are 65 percent to 95 percent, compared to natural survival rates of 5 percent to 20 percent.

Senate Bill 545 now goes to the House of Representatives for a veto override vote.

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