Program: Fish production
Special Revenue Funds:
This appropriation funds fish production programs. The
line item for "fish production" describes a state program for collecting,
growing and hatching eggs, and transporting fish both to the Great Lakes and to
inland waters for deposit. Our state has been in the hatching business since
1873, when $1,200 was first appropriated for the construction of a hatchery in
Cass County. The state owns and operates six fish hatcheries.
State lawmakers should, at a minimum, outsource the
production of fish to Michigan’s commercial fish hatcheries. As of 2000,
Michigan was home to 65 private aquaculture facilities (licensed by the state to
raise fish for sale), 33 of which are commercial trout operations. The value of
fish stock produced in Michigan ranks 12th among states.
According to a survey conducted by Michigan Privatization
Report, 19 other states currently supplement or intend to supplement their fish
production by purchasing stock from private, for-profit businesses. The state
of Oregon, which owns 34 hatcheries, is beginning a program to ensure that 10
percent of the state’s fish stock is obtained through private sources.
How much might outsourcing fish production save the state?
It is impossible to tell precisely without actually contracting out the
operations of at least one hatchery. But we can make a rough estimate based on
public- versus private-sector costs. According to MDNR officials it costs the
state $6.92 per pound to raise fish based on its "known costs." Sometimes, not
every expense of running a government operation is easily identifiable.
Expenses for electricity or pensions, for instance, may be charged to a
different department, which make the true cost of providing a service seem
smaller than it really is. Private-sector aquaculture officials say it costs
private producers about $2.00, or 71 percent less. If the private sector could
produce fish for just 25 percent less than it currently costs the state, the
savings would come to $1,718,100. Savings: $1,718,100. Granholm’s 2005
proposal increases the gross appropriation to $7,610,600.