The Castalia State Fish Hatchery was dedicated today after undergoing a major renovation to make the hatchery a state-of-the-art steelhead production facility, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

The dedication was held at the facility located in Castalia, Erie County, where the Division of Wildlife annually raises 400,000 steelhead trout. In addition to the steelhead, which are stocked into five Lake Erie tributaries, the facility also raises many of the catchable rainbow trout stocked each spring throughout Ohio.

The Castalia State Fish Hatchery is located on a 90-acre site with one of the area’s famous blue-hole aquifers, which provides the hatchery with 2,500 gallons per minute of the cold water necessary for steelhead trout production. The new 12,000-square-foot hatchery is designed to incubate up to 1 million steelhead eggs and feed up to 500,000 fingerlings that will allow the Division of Wildlife to raise 400,000 steelhead. In addition, the 900-foot blue-hole raceway is now enclosed to protect fish from predators and sunlight.  A state of the art monitoring system will ensure optimal water conditions for fish growth, and an alarm system with emergency generators will prevent fish loss from power outages.

Each year, Ohio’s 1.2 million anglers contribute more than $1.8 billion to the economy. The pursuit of fishing in Ohio annually generates $1.1 billion in retail sales, $90 million in state and local tax revenue and supports 17,000 Ohio jobs.

Projects like the Castalia renovation are made possible by the $14 million anglers contribute annually through the purchase of fishing licenses and funds provided by the federal Sport Fish Restoration Program. This user-pays program collects excise taxes on the sale of fishing equipment and marine fuel to fund fishing and boating activities throughout the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers the program and returns money to each state based on the number of fishing licenses sold and the amount of land and water area.

Castalia is one of six state fish hatcheries operated by the Division of Wildlife, and all six of the hatcheries combined will stock 23 million fish in 2012. Besides the steelhead and rainbow trout, other species of fish stocked in Ohio waterways include walleye, saugeye, brown trout, muskellunge, catfish and hybrid-striped bass.

For more information about the Division of Wildlife’s fish hatcheries, visit their website at wildohio.com.

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