A Lower South West research facility that helps contribute more than $20 million to the regional WA economy was celebrated in a milestone 50th anniversary event on Monday. The Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre, run by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, celebrated 50 years of Fisheries Department’s management at an event attended by State Government officials and civic leaders. Earlier this month more than 350 people attended Pemberton’s inaugural trout festival at Big Brook Dam to help release of hundreds of rainbow and brown trout grown at the hatchery, which is the largest freshwater hatchery and research facility in WA. Monday’s event was marked with the release of a commemorative book, A Brief History of the Pemberton Trout Hatchery, to recognise the hatchery’s connection to WA’s trout fishing history. Each year, nearly 10,000 anglers fishers and family groups take fishing holidays in the south to catch trout, contributing more than $20m to regional businesses and local economies across the Peel, South West and Great Southern regions. Fisheries Minister Don Punch said the hard work of the aquaculture team at the Pemberton Hatchery helped create more enjoyable freshwater fishing experiences. “I’ve enjoyed being involved in the release of some huge hatchery-bred trout during Troutfest in recent years and I know what a fun challenge the big fish present for recreational fishers,” Mr Punch said. “I congratulate the staff at the Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre as they mark this important occasion and thank Recfishwest and the WA Inland Fishery Research Advisory Committee for their commitment to enhancing trout fishing experiences and supporting the hatchery and our vibrant freshwater fishery.” Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie said the critical research being conducted at the hatchery helped stimulate the economy and boost the region’s tourism potential. “The important research undertaken at the Pemberton hatchery is critical to the success of WA’s freshwater fishing industry and experiences,” she said.