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Fish hatchery data - aren't we funding it?


LaBonte207

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I'm in the midst of writing a blog and came across something so fascinating I just had to share. Most states have their stocking reports open to the public, as they should since we the people pay for most of it one way or another. There is one state however, that has a wild policy, I mean bizarre. Rhode Island. If you want to see the stocking report for any given year, under the Access to Public Records Act, R.I. Gen Law 38-2, to inspect public records you must pay a fee at $15/hr. They estimated to me that to pull up the stocking report and send it to me for the year 2018, it would take 2 hours! Costing me $30 to see a report that is ultimately funded by tax payer dollars. I thought maybe because i'm from Maine it's costing me, nope. RI residents have to pay as well. Makes absolutely no sense to me. Hatcheries and the whole fish stocking industry is wack. The more i dig into it, the more I am way down on them. But ya, would love to get your takes on this, shouldn't tax payers be allowed to see records they are essentially funding? Seems odd to me. 

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As in many things , there are fees. Certainly state taxpayer monies should allow free access. But if an entity can make money, they will do what they can get . Fish stocking and hatcheries are one of my most angered discussions. Try to talk to a state Rep. and you will get an answer that comes out of non concern. Fishing is fees, and revenue. Having good working hatchery is work, and you are not going to get that any longer. The private sector could produce better fish , but no state will lay off employees of a non functioning system. 

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On Facebook I've been following a group for a few years now - it's called Protect Rhode Island Brook Trout. On that page they discuss Rhode Islands stocking habits and takes on its fisheries 'management' practices. As a matter of fact it seems the state refuses any existence of wild brook trout therefore takes no measures to protecting or preserving them... Meanwhile the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture has done numerous surveys of Rhode Island waters and found a surprising number of wild brook trout throughout the state yet the state isn't willing to protect or manage for them, choosing to heavily stock over them instead. Pretty sad state of affairs in that State if you ask me.

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That's wild! I mean, I kinda would get it if the files were all on microfiche and someone had to go find them? But you know it's all stored digitally, so that's some BS.

 

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17 hours ago, Sflagg91 said:

On Facebook I've been following a group for a few years now - it's called Protect Rhode Island Brook Trout. On that page they discuss Rhode Islands stocking habits and takes on its fisheries 'management' practices. As a matter of fact it seems the state refuses any existence of wild brook trout therefore takes no measures to protecting or preserving them... Meanwhile the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture has done numerous surveys of Rhode Island waters and found a surprising number of wild brook trout throughout the state yet the state isn't willing to protect or manage for them, choosing to heavily stock over them instead. Pretty sad state of affairs in that State if you ask me.

This.

 

i feel that far too many states approach hatcheries in this manner. If they survey and find wild fish it’s just money out of their pockets so to speak. It’s a shame, there’s plenty of waters wild trout can’t hack it in, and these should be stocked. If there’s wild fish stocking should cease in my opinion.

not even going to try and get into private vs state run, but I agree with your sentiments. Private would be FAR more efficient then what I’ve seen.

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2 hours ago, zwiggles said:

This.

 

i feel that far too many states approach hatcheries in this manner. If they survey and find wild fish it’s just money out of their pockets so to speak. It’s a shame, there’s plenty of waters wild trout can’t hack it in, and these should be stocked. If there’s wild fish stocking should cease in my opinion.

not even going to try and get into private vs state run, but I agree with your sentiments. Private would be FAR more efficient then what I’ve seen.

That's a touchy subject. I can see both sides of it, however in the state of Rhode Islands case it's inexcusable to have a state agency 'dedicated' to protecting and preserving the natural resources of the state and yet so blatantly ignore said resources. 

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I would be willing to be that a high school summer intern with an interest in computer systems could get that data onto a website in less than two hours.

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I am absolutely flabbergasted that in the year 2019, we can't figure out how to effectively take care of our wild resources and how to best manage waters that we stock.  I'm glad Maine is as transparent as they are because it allows the normal simpleton, like me, to do some math and figure out crazy things like we're stocking 5 to 6 times as many fish as there are PEOPLE in the state of Maine, not just anglers.  I won't even get started on the economical part of this equation, but if you look at some waters where they stock fish it's like HUH????

For example: 

500 ten inch brook trout stocked in the Androscoggin River in Lisbon.  What in the heck is going on here? Are we feeding pike with our license fees now? I don't even want to hear the whole "put and take fishery" deal because if you're eating fish out of that part of the Androscoggin River you may as well just grow a third eye.

Another example:

The Mousam River in Kennebunk receives 800 trout under 10" in the month of May.  I've seen it, and MANY other anglers have seen stripers just going to town on these fish.  Again, are we feeding predatory fish with our license fees and tax dollars? My goodness.  If you want to stock the Mousam with trout, fine, do it in the late fall when the stripers have vacated.  It's not like people are jacked up to be catching 7" stocked brown trout all spring on the Mousam. 

It's almost like the state has an overabundance of hatchery fish, and they just start dumping them all over the place without doing any experiments to see how it affects the fishery.  Then, they just start hitting the repeat button each year.  

The really SAD part is that it seems like nobody is bringing this to the attention of the state.  I've contacted a state biologist who I won't name out of respect about stocking brook trout in the Gilead section of the Andro.  My argument was that their seem to be brown and rainbow trout holding over, and growing big, not in huge numbers, but they keep stocking brook trout in there who are not growing.  For the record, if anyone has ever caught a brook trout over 16" out of that section please feel free to argue this with me.  But my point was that those brookies are not surviving and growing, when they are there they're taking food from the browns and rainbows, and let's be honest who in the hell is fishing that section of the Andro to catch 10" brook trout to bring home?  My suggestion was to stop stocking brookies in there for 2 years and see if the brown and rainbow trout numbers, which seem to be doing better, start growing more.  What could it hurt? The biologist simply responded by telling me that I should check out the Upper Andro River Management plan.  To me, it just felt like another "I don't have time for this, go click on our website".  I mean, are they sworn to secrecy as to why the fish stocking makes NO sense?

Touchy subject for me as you can see LOL

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11 hours ago, aaronb11 said:

I am absolutely flabbergasted that in the year 2019, we can't figure out how to effectively take care of our wild resources and how to best manage waters that we stock.  I'm glad Maine is as transparent as they are because it allows the normal simpleton, like me, to do some math and figure out crazy things like we're stocking 5 to 6 times as many fish as there are PEOPLE in the state of Maine, not just anglers.  I won't even get started on the economical part of this equation, but if you look at some waters where they stock fish it's like HUH????

For example: 

500 ten inch brook trout stocked in the Androscoggin River in Lisbon.  What in the heck is going on here? Are we feeding pike with our license fees now? I don't even want to hear the whole "put and take fishery" deal because if you're eating fish out of that part of the Androscoggin River you may as well just grow a third eye.

Another example:

The Mousam River in Kennebunk receives 800 trout under 10" in the month of May.  I've seen it, and MANY other anglers have seen stripers just going to town on these fish.  Again, are we feeding predatory fish with our license fees and tax dollars? My goodness.  If you want to stock the Mousam with trout, fine, do it in the late fall when the stripers have vacated.  It's not like people are jacked up to be catching 7" stocked brown trout all spring on the Mousam. 

It's almost like the state has an overabundance of hatchery fish, and they just start dumping them all over the place without doing any experiments to see how it affects the fishery.  Then, they just start hitting the repeat button each year.  

The really SAD part is that it seems like nobody is bringing this to the attention of the state.  I've contacted a state biologist who I won't name out of respect about stocking brook trout in the Gilead section of the Andro.  My argument was that their seem to be brown and rainbow trout holding over, and growing big, not in huge numbers, but they keep stocking brook trout in there who are not growing.  For the record, if anyone has ever caught a brook trout over 16" out of that section please feel free to argue this with me.  But my point was that those brookies are not surviving and growing, when they are there they're taking food from the browns and rainbows, and let's be honest who in the hell is fishing that section of the Andro to catch 10" brook trout to bring home?  My suggestion was to stop stocking brookies in there for 2 years and see if the brown and rainbow trout numbers, which seem to be doing better, start growing more.  What could it hurt? The biologist simply responded by telling me that I should check out the Upper Andro River Management plan.  To me, it just felt like another "I don't have time for this, go click on our website".  I mean, are they sworn to secrecy as to why the fish stocking makes NO sense?

Touchy subject for me as you can see LOL

I guess so! I gotta pretty much agree with you though. 

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12 hours ago, aaronb11 said:

I am absolutely flabbergasted that in the year 2019, we can't figure out how to effectively take care of our wild resources and how to best manage waters that we stock.  I'm glad Maine is as transparent as they are because it allows the normal simpleton, like me, to do some math and figure out crazy things like we're stocking 5 to 6 times as many fish as there are PEOPLE in the state of Maine, not just anglers.  I won't even get started on the economical part of this equation, but if you look at some waters where they stock fish it's like HUH????

For example: 

500 ten inch brook trout stocked in the Androscoggin River in Lisbon.  What in the heck is going on here? Are we feeding pike with our license fees now? I don't even want to hear the whole "put and take fishery" deal because if you're eating fish out of that part of the Androscoggin River you may as well just grow a third eye.

Another example:

The Mousam River in Kennebunk receives 800 trout under 10" in the month of May.  I've seen it, and MANY other anglers have seen stripers just going to town on these fish.  Again, are we feeding predatory fish with our license fees and tax dollars? My goodness.  If you want to stock the Mousam with trout, fine, do it in the late fall when the stripers have vacated.  It's not like people are jacked up to be catching 7" stocked brown trout all spring on the Mousam. 

It's almost like the state has an overabundance of hatchery fish, and they just start dumping them all over the place without doing any experiments to see how it affects the fishery.  Then, they just start hitting the repeat button each year.  

The really SAD part is that it seems like nobody is bringing this to the attention of the state.  I've contacted a state biologist who I won't name out of respect about stocking brook trout in the Gilead section of the Andro.  My argument was that their seem to be brown and rainbow trout holding over, and growing big, not in huge numbers, but they keep stocking brook trout in there who are not growing.  For the record, if anyone has ever caught a brook trout over 16" out of that section please feel free to argue this with me.  But my point was that those brookies are not surviving and growing, when they are there they're taking food from the browns and rainbows, and let's be honest who in the hell is fishing that section of the Andro to catch 10" brook trout to bring home?  My suggestion was to stop stocking brookies in there for 2 years and see if the brown and rainbow trout numbers, which seem to be doing better, start growing more.  What could it hurt? The biologist simply responded by telling me that I should check out the Upper Andro River Management plan.  To me, it just felt like another "I don't have time for this, go click on our website".  I mean, are they sworn to secrecy as to why the fish stocking makes NO sense?

Touchy subject for me as you can see LOL

Can't agree more about the spring stocking of the mousam in kennebunk. What a waste. I dont think the state does a good job with their stocking program. Like you said. They are putting a ton of brookies on top of the browns and rainbows that are holding over well. You would think they would discontinue the stocking for a few years and evaluate the fishery. If it seems to be taking hold by itself then there is no reason to continue the stocking. Frustrating subject for myself as well..

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45 minutes ago, McGregor956 said:

Can't agree more about the spring stocking of the mousam in kennebunk. 

Where in Kennebunk are they stocking in the spring?  Below the dam at Rt. 9 down to Rogers Park?  If so, that does seem wasteful. 

In years past, I've enjoyed the fall stocking there, for what that's worth.

 

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8 minutes ago, Steve H. said:

Where in Kennebunk are they stocking in the spring?  Below the dam at Rt. 9 down to Rogers Park?  If so, that does seem wasteful. 

In years past, I've enjoyed the fall stocking there, for what that's worth.

 

On second thought, I'm wondering if there are any other spots in Kennebunk where local kids can have a shot at catching river/stream trout in the spring.  I know the Springvale/Sanford sections have productive stretches (free from stripers) in the spring, but not sure about that far downriver.  I know in NH, F&G tries its best to provide at least a small number of stocked stream trout in the spring for the locals, even if they have little to no chance of survival beyond a few weeks (if they'r not fished out entirely first).  Not saying I agree, but as a kid I was able to ride my bike and enjoy catching trout from a stream (Spicket River) each spring, even though the water quality was poor for trout most of the year.

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1 hour ago, Steve H. said:

Where in Kennebunk are they stocking in the spring?  Below the dam at Rt. 9 down to Rogers Park?  If so, that does seem wasteful. 

In years past, I've enjoyed the fall stocking there, for what that's worth.

 

Yup, below Rt. 9. When they do its a slaughter fest between the stripers and birds of prey. The fall stocking to me makes more sense. Just my 2 cents.

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15 hours ago, aaronb11 said:

I am absolutely flabbergasted that in the year 2019, we can't figure out how to effectively take care of our wild resources and how to best manage waters that we stock.  I'm glad Maine is as transparent as they are because it allows the normal simpleton, like me, to do some math and figure out crazy things like we're stocking 5 to 6 times as many fish as there are PEOPLE in the state of Maine, not just anglers.  I won't even get started on the economical part of this equation, but if you look at some waters where they stock fish it's like HUH????

For example: 

500 ten inch brook trout stocked in the Androscoggin River in Lisbon.  What in the heck is going on here? Are we feeding pike with our license fees now? I don't even want to hear the whole "put and take fishery" deal because if you're eating fish out of that part of the Androscoggin River you may as well just grow a third eye.

Another example:

The Mousam River in Kennebunk receives 800 trout under 10" in the month of May.  I've seen it, and MANY other anglers have seen stripers just going to town on these fish.  Again, are we feeding predatory fish with our license fees and tax dollars? My goodness.  If you want to stock the Mousam with trout, fine, do it in the late fall when the stripers have vacated.  It's not like people are jacked up to be catching 7" stocked brown trout all spring on the Mousam. 

It's almost like the state has an overabundance of hatchery fish, and they just start dumping them all over the place without doing any experiments to see how it affects the fishery.  Then, they just start hitting the repeat button each year.  

The really SAD part is that it seems like nobody is bringing this to the attention of the state.  I've contacted a state biologist who I won't name out of respect about stocking brook trout in the Gilead section of the Andro.  My argument was that their seem to be brown and rainbow trout holding over, and growing big, not in huge numbers, but they keep stocking brook trout in there who are not growing.  For the record, if anyone has ever caught a brook trout over 16" out of that section please feel free to argue this with me.  But my point was that those brookies are not surviving and growing, when they are there they're taking food from the browns and rainbows, and let's be honest who in the hell is fishing that section of the Andro to catch 10" brook trout to bring home?  My suggestion was to stop stocking brookies in there for 2 years and see if the brown and rainbow trout numbers, which seem to be doing better, start growing more.  What could it hurt? The biologist simply responded by telling me that I should check out the Upper Andro River Management plan.  To me, it just felt like another "I don't have time for this, go click on our website".  I mean, are they sworn to secrecy as to why the fish stocking makes NO sense?

Touchy subject for me as you can see LOL

While I agree with you completely, the reality is the DIFW tries to appease the 'casual angler' (i.e. worm dunkers) way too much.  Anywhere with easy access and anywhere with high population density (like the Androscoggin in Lisbon and the Mousam in Kennebunk) seems to get a boat-load of stocked trout even though the majority of the waters they are stocking are marginal at best for trout.  They are doing this partially at the expense (we buy licenses too) of serious anglers/fly fishers/ALO guys (i.e. most of the users of this forum) who have little to no interest in catching a 10" trout in 'bathtub water'.  There are way too many put-and-take fisheries in Maine, especially in the southern half of the state.  I'm not against stocking at all, it's necessary, but stocking spring yearling trout (especially brook trout) in waters that get over 75*F by July just seems foolish to me.

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23 hours ago, TightLinesMaine said:

While I agree with you completely, the reality is the DIFW tries to appease the 'casual angler' (i.e. worm dunkers) way too much.  Anywhere with easy access and anywhere with high population density (like the Androscoggin in Lisbon and the Mousam in Kennebunk) seems to get a boat-load of stocked trout even though the majority of the waters they are stocking are marginal at best for trout.  They are doing this partially at the expense (we buy licenses too) of serious anglers/fly fishers/ALO guys (i.e. most of the users of this forum) who have little to no interest in catching a 10" trout in 'bathtub water'.  There are way too many put-and-take fisheries in Maine, especially in the southern half of the state.  I'm not against stocking at all, it's necessary, but stocking spring yearling trout (especially brook trout) in waters that get over 75*F by July just seems foolish to me.

+1  ...and with aaronb11.   Seems Fish & Wildlife of many states without the payscale of a NYS is usually near the bottom, both in funding, hence brainpower = the top skill of those in charge are double-talk to cover their butts for the next pay raise, far from considering the animals and fish.

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If you look at non-fly-fishing forums you’ll see that they’re often upset that FFO water gets so many stocked fish.

I guess it all depends on your point of view.

I’ll fish for anything - stocked, wild, whatever. Wild is by far my favorite, just because the fish are so much prettier (and they fight better).

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I just don't understand the state's agenda on some of these stocking decisions.  If you wanna stock the Sump, go for it.  There are no wild trout in that river.  If you wanna stock the mousam in the fall to create a good winter fishery, love it.  But when the state stocks the crap out of places where wild trout live, what are we doing?? Last time I checked wild brook trout are on the major decline on the East coast mostly due to development.  Aren't biologists' jobs to look out for the animals and fish of the state? Not just put a bunch of fake fish in to appease people to pay $25 for a license.  People are going to go fishing, regardless if you're stocking 6 million fish or 6000.  I mean seriously, if we have a decline in our moose population, is the state just going to breed a bunch of moose each year and put them in a giant penned in area for hunters to shoot them?  Trout are on the sh*t list for whatever reason in this world, probably because it's so easy for people to just clone them. 

Stocking started because man didn't know anything about conservation and they fished for food.  Today, it seems like they keep stocking places without doing any real research to see if it's affecting wild fish that live there or if there are fish holding over each year.  I use the words "seems like" because if they are doing this research, they're not publishing it.  It seems like a hidden agenda, which is wrong.  Just like what Greg posted about RI.  Their state biologists have decimated their wild brook trout population by overstocking those rivers with fake trout.  It's no secret.  They're making you pay for their stocking data because they're ashamed of the decisions they've made in the past, and continue to make, so they want to hide that information so they're not getting publicly blasted.

Everyone knows about the great work that Maine biologists did on the Rapid River to try to eliminate the smallmouth bass population and save the brook trout.  That report was published a while ago.  Where's the follow up? Where's the research? Do they stop going out in the field and just sit behind a desk now and hit the repeat button on stocking fish?

We all know the smallmouth are coming from Umbagog Lake and spawning in the Rapid/competing for food with the brook trout, but I've noticed over the last 8 years that I'm catching more and more pinner salmon.  Where the heck are they coming from? The stocking list suggests that Richardson Lakes are getting salmon stocked each year.  Are they potentially spilling over Middle Dam into the Rapid? Potentially.  Is the state trying to infuse more salmon in the river to overlook the fact that the brook trout population is diminishing still and they can't control the smallmouth population? If so, at least admit it.  They'll never fix that problem because Umbagog is well known as a great smallmouth fishery, and those people far outnumber the people who fish the Rapid.  I drive by Umbagog all summer and there are tons of empty trailers on the side of the road.  It's sad that we won't win that battle, but if the state is trying to mask this why don't they at least release some information about it to the public? I don't understand why stuff is so HIDDEN.

Screen Shot 2019-12-08 at 7.49.26 AM.png

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The way I see it, we'll never win this battle because we're such a minority, and anytime any of us contact a biologist they just roll their eyes and pass the buck.  "Go read this document" they say.  You can't take 5 freaking minutes to answer my two questions in my email?  

I emailed the same questions I'll post below to the regional biologist last year, and the answer I got was to "read the Upper Andro Management Plan".  So I did, but found no answers. There was a great rainbow and brown fishery in Gilead "back in the 90's".  Why isn't it that way anymore? Too many dams creating warm water? Climate change? How about the fact that the state started stocking brook trout in that section in the early 2000s, when there were also wild brook trout in that stretch? All this because they wanted people to be able to catch all three trout species.  No experiments to see if it would make sense.  When the brook trout weren't holding over and growing, what do they do? Yup, just stock more brook trout the next year.  I'd love to see a picture of anyone who has caught a 20" brook trout in that section.  You're just as likely to catch a striper in Gilead as you are a 20" brook trout because it's NOT good habitat for them.  Stop stocking them for 2 seasons and see if the browns and rainbows start holding over better with less competition for food and disease from stocked fish.  You can't tell me guys are chomping at the bit, fly angers or spin guys, to go to Gilead to catch 10" brook trout to bring home to "mother".  I don't understand the state's agenda.  You're a biologist, do some SCIENCE and do what's right for the wild fish instead of continuing to put bandaids on everything.  

George Smith has bravely tried to fight legislation but it seems like he can't get any traction because we're the minority: http://georgesoutdoornews.bangordailynews.com/2016/02/12/fishing/that-fish-you-caught-may-have-cost-50/

 

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Ok let’s play devils advocate here for a second.

 

how many people on this forum would not buy a license if your state stopped stocking trout? Anyone? I know I would still buy a license regardless of stocking in my home state because it’s where I do the majority of my fishing. 
 

on the other hand my aunt and uncle love catching, and more so eating stocked trout. They look at like this, “they like eating stocked trout (to each their own imo) and their license fees are justified by their ability to catch and eat stocked trout in the seacoast of NH. Maybe I’m wrong but I feel a lot of casual fisherman have this perspective. Does F&G depts realize this and work this into their stocking plan? Perhaps they are concerned about lower numbers of stocked fish directly effecting license sales?

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10 minutes ago, zwiggles said:

Ok let’s play devils advocate here for a second.

 

how many people on this forum would not buy a license if your state stopped stocking trout? Anyone? I know I would still buy a license regardless of stocking in my home state because it’s where I do the majority of my fishing. 
 

on the other hand my aunt and uncle love catching, and more so eating stocked trout. They look at like this, “they like eating stocked trout (to each their own imo) and their license fees are justified by their ability to catch and eat stocked trout in the seacoast of NH. Maybe I’m wrong but I feel a lot of casual fisherman have this perspective. Does F&G depts realize this and work this into their stocking plan? Perhaps they are concerned about lower numbers of stocked fish directly effecting license sales?

Of course this is a concern. However, the money stimulated by anglers chasing these stocked fish and the cost to create the fishery are not that different. If you stopped stocking, you’d lose anglers, but you’d be basically at even in the economics department. So make an investment and hire qualified scientists to perform an academic study on where to stock, how to improve natural populations, etc. make an initial investment to get our fisheries on track and we would end up spending less money in the long run. However, that is not likely to happen, because investments in our future haven’t really been IFW’s thing, they, like most of Maine, are out for immediate return. I know some biologists and they are fantastic people with the interest of the fish in mind, but a lot of them are not qualified to be conducting scientific research, which is why not a lot of it is published. It would get shot down so quick in a peer reviewed journal. 

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