August 25, 2015
MADISON -- Justine Hasz has been named fisheries bureau director for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, leading the 205 permanent staff member team responsible for fish propagation, management and angler services.
Hasz, a 15-year veteran of the department, previously held the fisheries services section chief post and has been acting as interim bureau director since the retirement of Ron Bruch earlier this year. A native of Leicester, England, Hasz moved to Wisconsin in January 1997 to study at UW-Stevens Point where she earned a master's degree in freshwater fisheries management. She also holds a master's degree in marine fisheries science from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
An avid angler and hunter who intends to bag her first bear this fall, Hasz said her work around the state with both recreational and commercial anglers has given her important insights into the connection between the environment and the economy. In Wisconsin, sport fishing generates a total economic impact of $2.3 billion and draws some 336,000 nonresident anglers to the state each year, based on numbers from the American Sportfishing Association.
The fishing tradition also runs deep among Wisconsin residents with some 938,000 residents aged 16 and older participating.
"Wisconsin's world-class fishing opportunities result from a long-term, strategic approach and in turn, anglers make impressive contributions to the state's economy," Hasz said. "From our stocking and management efforts to habitat improvement and angler recruitment initiatives, the DNR fisheries team also recognizes the importance of engaging citizens and stakeholders in all facets of our work. We look forward to providing additional opportunities for input in the months and years ahead."
Sanjay Olson, administrator for DNR's division of fish, wildlife and parks, said Hasz was chosen for her exemplary leadership and extensive knowledge of the state's unique regional fisheries. Hasz started her permanent career with DNR in July 2000 as fisheries biologist for Green Bay, then covered Marinette and Oconto Counties before moving to Wisconsin Rapids to cover Adams, Juneau and Wood Counties. In 2012, Hasz became fisheries team supervisor for 13 counties covered by the fisheries team's West District.
"Few states offer the diverse angling opportunities we provide in Wisconsin, with exceptional trout and salmon fishing in the Great Lakes, trophy musky and walleye in the north and incredibly productive trout streams throughout the state," Olson said. "Prudent management by our fisheries team has led to top rankings by publications including Bassmaster Magazine and Justine's work has and will continue to play a critical role in this shared success."
In the months ahead, Hasz said she anticipates leading implementation of efforts to simplify trout regulations and improve panfish size structure through initiatives that gained strong support from citizens and participants at Wisconsin Conservation Congress hearings. A 10-year Lake Michigan Integrated Fisheries Management Plan and additional stocking as part of the three-year, $12 million Wisconsin Walleye Initiative also are in the works.
"We're particularly excited and grateful for the support we've received to continue modernizing our hatchery facilities, including the Art Oehmcke Hatchery in Oneida County, Gov. Tommy G. Thompson Hatchery in Washburn County and Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery," Hasz said. "Improvements to these facilities will help ensure enjoyable fishing experiences for anglers of all ages in the years to come."