Texas Fish Hatchery Forced to Close Due to Relentless Drought

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A year of drought has taken its toll on Texas and ranchers and farmers are feeling the effect. Texas’ largest fish farm suspended operations and has left their dry farm closed for almost two months now. Now, Dundee State Fish Hatchery fish farmers look to 2013 to be able to resume operations. Never in the history of state fish farms operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division (TPWD) has a facility had to shut down because of insufficient water.

While various parts of Texas have seen some water, the Dundee Hatchery, near Wichita Falls, drew the short straw and has been dry since about the winter of 2010. A new hatchery is being built in east Texas to take on production of striped bass and other fish previously hatched at Dundee. On April 27 the TPWD released a video with an update on the hatchery.

Original press release issued by Texas Parks and Wildlife on March 15, 2012:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials have announced that operations at the Dundee State Fish Hatchery near Wichita Falls will be suspended effective immediately due to a lack of sufficient water.

“Although many parts of the state recently received good rains, the area west of Wichita Falls around Lakes Kemp and Diversion did not,” said Todd Engeling, director of hatchery operations for TPWD. “Lake Kemp remains at an elevation of approximately 1,126 feet, only one foot above the level at which the hatchery is not authorized to use water from the lake. As a result, operations at the Dundee Fish Hatchery will be temporarily suspended until conditions in Lake Kemp improve.”

The Dundee hatchery is one of the state’s primary producers of striped bass and hybrid striped bass fingerlings for stocking into Texas public waters. “Production of striped bass and hybrid striped bass fingerlings remains a high priority, because they support valuable and popular sport fisheries throughout the state,” Engeling added. “We will be adjusting normal production plans and shift efforts at other facilities away from largemouth bass to produce striped bass and hybrid striped bass fingerlings. Our goal is to balance the priorities and needs for both species in supporting fisheries management efforts with available hatchery space.”