September 20, 2021

Arizona Secures US Fish and Wildlife Service Funding to Support Sport Fish Stocking Program

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States Senior Coordinator


Why it Matters: Recreational fishing provides the perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy nature, regardless of age, skill level, or experience. Despite being a desert state, in 2013 Arizona anglers participated in 6,009,716 use days equating to a statewide economic impact of more than $1.47 billion. Arizona’s Sport Fish Stocking program is essential for meeting the growing demands of the state while supporting conservation measures to ensure the sustainability and efficacy of fisheries management in the state. With the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issuing a “Finding of No Significant Impact” of its proposed action, partial funding for Arizona Game and Fish Department’s (AZGFD) hatchery operations and fish stocking activities that provide critical recreational opportunities for anglers can continue for the next decade.

Recreational fishing is a key economic driver and time-honored pastime for many Arizonans. According to the 2013 Economic Impact of Fishing in Arizona by Responsive Management (the last year such a survey was completed), recreational fishing created a statewide economic impact of more than $1.47 billion with 6,009,716 angler use days. In fiscal year 2020, AZGFD sold 273,902 fishing licenses, generating revenue of nearly $14 million which is critical for state-based conservation efforts. Clearly, fishing is a big deal in the Grand Canyon State.

To facilitate effective fisheries management and positive recreational fishing experiences throughout the state, the AZGFD depends upon funding provided by the USFWS through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) grant program. Funding from the WSFR grant program is critical to the AZGFD mission and the continued operation of the Sport Fish Stocking Program.

In August, the USFWS issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact,” of its proposed action, meaning the AZGFD can utilize Sport Fish Restoration grant funds to support its stocking program for the next 10 years, including conservation measures to reduce or avoid potential impacts on federally listed species, sensitive native aquatic species, and semi-aquatic species. Through Arizona’s Sport Fish Stocking Program, 186 individual sites and 34 species (primarily trout) are stocked between both open and closed water systems. As part of the Community Fishing Program, many of the stocking sites are located in urban landscapes such as municipal public parks and recreation areas which provide convenient, affordable, and accessible fishing for anglers of all ages, abilities, and socioeconomic statuses.

In June, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter urging the USFWS to support the draft environmental assessment’s “Proposed Action; issuance of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funding to Arizona Game and Fish Department.” CSF is proud to be part of the effort to ensure the continuation of Arizona’s Sport Fishing Stocking Program for the next 10 years.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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