RI Anglers Concerned Over Effects of Stocked Brook Trout
April 19, 2015
ecoRI.org: Rhode Island’s wild brook trout population certainly isn’t what it once was, and for that, fly fishermen and naturalists can largely blame development pressures and climate change.
How to best protect the only native trout, char or salmon species currently found reproducing in Rhode Island waters is another issue entirely, and it has put local fishermen at odds and strained friendships.
About a year ago, four Rhode Island fishermen broke from the local chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) and created an advocacy group that espouses the same to-the-point name as its mission: Protect Rhode Island Brook Trout (PRIBT).
PRIBT was created by a shared desire of its 4 founding members — Martin Custodio, Brian O’Conner, Paul Pezza and Burt Strom — to preserve the state’s brook trout population.
Like others in the state concerned about the future of this species, these 4 fishermen acknowledge that the stress created by a changing climate — rising water temperatures, diminishing dissolved oxygen in the water column, and the shocking rise and fall of stream/river flow — and generations of development have taken a toll on the cold, clear waters these fish need to survive.
However, they also believe the habitat desired by brook trout is being threatened by Rhode Island’s continued practice of stocking the state’s rivers and streams, most notably the Upper Wood River, with hatchery fish. They’re concerned about the use of antibiotics on farmed fish and the amount of effluent generated by these operations.
Pezza, a retired Providence College health policy professor and longtime fisherman, said dumping truckloads of hatchery-raised trout into local waters is having a direct impact on wild brook trout.
“These hatchery fish are at least 2 years old, and at 11” to 14”, are larger and more aggressive than most of the wild brook trout,” he said. “They outcompete wild brook trout for space and food.”
Read more about the fishermen who say stocked trout are harming Rhode Island’s wild brook trout.