By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — CROWN POINT — A disease outbreak at a state fish hatchery will reduce the number of trout stocked in Essex County waters this year.
Essex County Fish Hatchery Director Steve LaMere said the State Department of Environmental Conservation told him the number of brown and brook trout stocked by the state in Essex County will have to drop 20 percent.
The facility with the outbreak was the Rome State Fish Hatchery, where 131,000 fish had to be euthanized after furunculosis, a bacterial fish disease, was detected last fall.
“They had a fairly significant disease outbreak,” LaMere said. “It resulted in more than a hundred thousand fish having to be put down and a complete decontamination of the holding ponds that those fish were in.”
That means a greater dependence this season on Essex County’s own fish hatchery, LaMere said.
“I am trying to mobilize to the extent possible to adjust to that, but it is very difficult, because you never know when a situation like that is going to happen. I think it kind of spotlights the importance of our facility in a county that’s so heavily affected by tourism and angler-related tourism.”
CLEAN LOCAL RECORD
He said the state hatchery should be able to rebound next year.
“That’s a very unique, one-year situation, that, hopefully, won’t be duplicated, but it does show you the kind of tenuous existence when you’re dealing with a live product. “This is not the first time this has happened with the state. They have had issues with whirling disease; they have had issues with furunculosis outbreaks.”
Whirling disease afflicts juvenile fish and causes skeletal deformation and neurological damage.
The Essex County Fish Hatchery has so far been free of disease, LaMere said.
“To the credit of our facility through the years, we have always tested negative for all certifiable diseases.”
REDUCTION IN LAKES
LaMere said it’s unfortunate that so many trout were affected.
“They’re (DEC) looking at about a 20 percent percent reduction in the Adirondacks and in Essex County on brown trout and brook trout. Brown trout and brook trout are two of the most significant species that we receive in Essex County from the state.”
The state says only 224 Adirondack lakes will be stocked this year, 102 fewer than last year.
The states raises about 2.4 million fish a year for stocking statewide.
A hatchery mitigation plan is in place for Rome, outlining measures to be taken to clean up the hatchery, restrictions on transfers of fish in and out of the hatchery, biosecurity measures and a testing plan to determine if and when remaining fish are free of infection.
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