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Bill would close state fish hatcheries

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ST. PAUL - Lawmakers are considering closing Minnesota's two state-run walleye and muskie fish hatcheries.

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, brought the bill, saying private business grows walleye fingerlings 37 percent cheaper than the Department of Natural Resources and can produce a more consistent size of young fish.

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McNamara said that ending the state's hatchery programs will prevent unfair competition between the public and private sectors. The state buys large amounts of fish from the private sector anyway, he said. The fish are stocked in Minnesota lakes and rivers.

According to legislative committee testimony, one muskie farm near Alexandria provided all tiger muskie fingerlings, 33 percent of all muskie fingerlings and 10 percent of all walleye fingerlings in 2008.

"Why wouldn't we move to more private sector if it saves money?" McNamara asked.

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Parthun is a University of Minnesota journalism student who is writing stories for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau.

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