Stocking Program Helps Restore Massive Fish Kill

fish stocking
3,000 harvestable-sized channel catfish have been released into the Pearl River near Picayune this week as part of a recovery program for a massive fish kill that occurred last August. Black liquor from the Temple-Inland Paper Mill in Bogalusa, Louisiana poured into the Pearl River, resulting in an estimated kill count of 219,000 fish and mussels over an 800-mile stretch.The stocking is being carried out jointly by staff from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) Meridian Fish Hatchery and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).MDEQ recently reached a settlement with Temple-Inland for an illegal solid wastedischarge and polluting the waters of the State. The company has agreed to pay a $100,000 fine, $220,000 for fish stocking, and $45,000 to reimburse MDEQ for response and recovery costs.As part of MDEQ?s settlement agreement, the agency is reimbursing MDWFP for the recovery program fish stocking from MDWFP?s hatcheries.The fish stocked this week at Walkiah Bluff Water Park in Pearl River County are one of several aimed at re-populating the river. MDWFP is scheduled to make four releases including:
  • Two releases of 200,000 fingerling redear sunfish (shellcracker or chinquapin)
  • Two releases of adult channel catfish (1-2 lbs) ? 3,000 fish and 2,000 fish
The redear are important sport fish for local anglers and serve as a prey species for larger predator species like largemouth bass and big catfish. These fingerlings will be large enough to spawn this coming season. The adult catfish will provide immediate harvest opportunities for anglers in the depleted fishery.?The fish kill in August was devastating in the lower Pearl River, and we moved as quickly as possible with the enforcement action and settlement to restock the river and begin the process of bringing it back to a normal, healthy state. We appreciate the partnership with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to undertake this effort, and we look forward to the river being restored as the valued resource it is for residents and sportsmen in the area,? said Trudy D. Fisher, MDEQ Executive Director.Dr. Sam Polles, MDWFP Executive Director said, ?The recovery of the lower Pearl River fisheries following this summer?s fish kill is extremely important to the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. It is a resource valued by Mississippi and Louisiana sportsmen. We value our partnership with MDEQ and our agencies will continue to work together to identify additional species affected by the fish kill. Our staff will work diligently to produce and stock fish needed for the river?s recovery.?For more environmentally-related news, click here.
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