August 5 - 12, 1998

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Fisheries Conference to Bring 20,000 Visitors to City

by Andy Hart

The American Fisheries Conference, the largest scientific conference ever to take place in Hartford, is expected to draw 20,000 people to the city on August 23-27. The announcement was made last Friday, July 31, at a press conference at Charter Oak Landing.

The fisheries conference is expected to generate over $2 million in spending in the greater Hartford area, said Scott Phelps, President of the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Lieutenant Governor Jodi Rell said she was "absolutely thrilled" that the conference was coming to Hartford and that participants "will find out what we've all known for years; this is a very special place."

Conference organizers said the Connecticut River will serve as a "living classroom" during the five-day conference. Paul Brouha, Executive Director of the American Fisheries Society, said, "One of the key reasons we chose to hold our meeting in Hartford is to celebrate the restoration of Connecticut River fisheries." The river's fish population has been on the comeback trail since the passage of the Connecticut Clean Water Act in 1968. Arthur Rocque, Jr., State Commissioner of Environmental Protection, said the river's rejuvenation is "More than a dream come true...30 years ago no one would have dreamed that we'd have this kind of river running through an urban center."

The thousands of scientists and educators who will attend the conference will study a wide range of topics such as a history of fish and fisheries in the Connecticut River, the recovery of the striped bass population in Connecticut and along the Atlantic Coast, shaping black bass and walleye sport fisheries and fish habitat rehabilitation in the Great Lakes.

After the press conference, the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau, sponsored a trip down the river to Wethersfield Cove. At the Cove, students watched as a Wisconsin Log Crib they'd built was launched into the waters. The crib, which is about six feet long and made of logs and filled with brush, will provide artificial cover for fish in the Cove.

Last week the river, New England's longest, was designated as one of the nation's 14 American Heritage Rivers.

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