NE Miss. hatchery sends fish to coastal rivers, streams

Published 10:35 pm Saturday, November 18, 2006

A federal fish hatchery in northeast Mississippi has shipped large numbers of various fish types to restock Gulf Coast fishing holes devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year.

“We shipped the last 6,000 catfish Tuesday,” said Ricky Campbell, manager of the Pvt. John Allen National Fish Hatchery in Tupelo.

“We had about 30,000 total fish we sent out then,” he said.

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State biologists and trucks from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were used in the shipments.

Included in the restocking effort were more than 600,000 bluegill and redear sunfish. The fish went to the Pearl, Jourdan, Wolf and Pascagoula rivers and associated oxbow lakes.

“The freshwater habitat took a real hit from the saltwater intrusion caused by the storm surge” of Katrina, said Ron Garavelli, director of MDWFP’s Fisheries Bureau. “This stocking will increase the chances of a quick comeback of those species lost as a result of the storms.”

Campbell said the fish are intended to bring the coast fisheries back to normal.

“We need to get the rivers back up,” he said. “These fish are needed to support the recreational and commercial fishing as soon as possible.”

The Tupelo facility is the state’s only federal fish hatchery, raising catfish, paddlefish, sturgeon, alligator bass, striped bass, largemouth bass, walleye, largemouth bass and bluegill.