Monday, January 20, 2020

More Than Five Million Fish

Salmon at the hatchery that will be released as "landlocked salmon" in NJ

There were more than five million fish raised at the Hackettstown Hatchery in 2019.

To be more precise, there were 5,539,994 fish weighing a total of 21,584 pounds raised at the hatchery by the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife in 2019.

Fish are raised and stocked for the angling and it is paid for through license fees and Sportfish Restoration funds.

There are 15 species of fish that might be stocked from the hatchery's production. Species and numbers depend on the requests from the Division's regional fisheries biologists. The species included: Muskellunge, Tiger Muskie, Northern Pike, Striped Bass Hybrid, Walleye, Atlantic Landlocked Salmon, Channel Catfish, Black Crappie, Golden Shiner, Bluegill Sunfish, Yellow Perch, Gambusia, and Fathead Minnows.

The Hackettstown Hatchery supports freshwater fishing in New Jersey. Officially called the Charles O. Hayford State Fish Hatchery, it opened in 1912 and at one time produced all the fish stocked in the state's freshwater rivers, ponds, reservoirs, and lakes. The facility was responsible for trout production until 1981 when the Pequest Trout Hatchery took over coldwater production. Hackettstown's now is focused on cool and warm water production.

An adult female Gambusia affinis         Image: Wikimedia
Even if you don't fish at all, you benefit from the hatchery raising gambusia (mosquitofish) which they supply to county mosquito control commissions. These are introduced into ponds to eat mosquito larvae. Care must be taken with their use because they can become invasive, threatening the local species. The hatchery produces 1.5 to 2.5 million gambusia per year.

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