Following a suitable rearing-period in the raceways, ‘standard’ 60-fish lots of trout should be harvested and sent for IPNV testing using ‘pooled’ tissue sample, in addition to which two 10-fish lots should be sent out for individual testing.
If both vaccinated and un-vaccinated groups test positive, the entire stream-management policy needs to be re-visited.
If either one or both groups test negative, then we would suggest repeating the study utilizing brook trout, which are more highly susceptible to IPNV. Should a repeat-study be fortunate-enough to develop disease-free brook trout from the un-vaccinated group, the logical next step is to test-raise both brook and rainbow trout with no vaccine administered in either hatch-house or nursery. This would constitute an “acid test” of water quality.
In order to gauge the effects of infectivity vs. egg & fry population density, we envision conducting a study whereby different hatch-house troughs contain different population densities, up to 150% of the rearing density expected to be needed for “normal” trout production. Granted, the fish produced could not be held in the troughs for as long as would be desirable, since the nursery pond cannot be fully compartmentalized, but the harvesting & testing of the resultant fry would yield valuable information about the resumption of theoretical production targets.
We believe this is a workable and reasonable approach which would re-open the hatchery for at least its educational value while obtaining valuable data for further evaluation.
None of the above recommendations would require the “hands -on” involvement of consultants, especially if one or more motivated graduate students in fisheries’ sciences from local universities could be found to participate. Any longer-term hydrologic/engineering/biophysical issues cannot rationally be presented without an adequate “data set” from which to begin. At present, and without any background data, any potential remediation solutions offered will be purely speculative, and quite likely prohibitively expensive as well as incompatible with the OPR’s mission of historic preservation.
Without a renewed and sustained public demand for action, the wheels of State bureaucracy will continue to grind with agonizing slowness. Regulations written by bureaucrats are not biblical commandments; they can be re -written to be compatible with both science and the common good. Administrators cannot function efficiently if they are unwilling to educate themselves about the problems they are charged with addressing.
The ultimate nightmare for the Connetquot Preserve would be the exchange of some (limited) development for revenue. Under a former State administration, this idea was briefly floated, during relatively good economic conditions, but fortunately rejected. It is not at all unreasonable to speculate that under the current economic climate, a renewed push for such an exchange might be met with a more favorable audience. If OPR-HP does not act quickly and decisively to defend its “jewel”, the gem may be stolen from under their noses.