ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Anglers fear state budget cuts will reduce the number of trout and salmon stocked in New York state’s waterways next spring, despite hefty license fee hikes last fall.

Jason Kemper, chairman of the state’s Conservation Fund Advisory Board, says the recommended staffing level in the state’s fish hatchery system is 80, but early retirement incentives and unfilled vacancies have brought staffing down to 67. He told an Assembly hearing earlier this month that staffing is insufficient.

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The price of a fishing license was raised from $19 to $29 last year to bolster the Conservation Fund, which pays for fish and wildlife programs.

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Eric Kriss, spokesman for Gov. David Paterson’s Budget Division, says every part of state government has to cut back as the state endures “the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

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