Fisheries and Habitat Conservation

Welcome to Fisheries and Habitat Conservation

The Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Program is unique within the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in its abilities to apply a dual approach to natural resource management; it focuses on both helping manage species and helping to conserve their habitats. The Program relies on collaboration and joint ventures with State agencies, Tribes, private landowners, industry, other Federal agencies and the public to achieve these conservation goals. In doing so, the Program combines expertise in habitat restoration, contaminant assessment and remediation, genetics, population dynamics and management, fish culture and fish health, fish passage, invasive species management, wetlands, water development and management, wind energy, coastal, instream flow and other disciplines. Fisheries and Habitat Conservation blends these capabilites to provide expert technical assistance to our conservation partners.



South Dakota culvert blowout resulted in a chunk of the road going down-river with it.
South Dakota culvert blowout resulted in a chunk of the road going down-river with it.
On August 28, 2011 - Tropical Storm Irene dropped eight inches of rain in a 24 hour period, resulting in a 500-year flood event in Vermont’s Upper White River Basin. After assessing the damage in the Storm’s wake, the state reported 963 culverts and 277 bridges were damaged or destroyed – isolating 13 towns and impacting 225 municipalities across Vermont. Similar events have been occurring across the United States, including in Duluth, Minnesota, and in the Vermillion and James River watersheds of Eastern South Dakota. In order to protect the American public and their property from these events, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Passage Program(NFFP) is working in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and numerous non-profit organizations on-the-ground in local communities to proactively install flood resistant that are friendly to fish migrating up and down rivers. This type of flood response is ecologically sound and fiscally responsible. The following materials provide a glimpse into the impact of these flooding events and how the partners prevent and respond to these events. For more information, contact Susan Wells, National Fish Passage Coordinator at

Flood Summit 2012 - Hurricane Relief Meets Fish Passage (pdf)

Part 1 - Flooding in Vermont - National Fish Passage Program:

Part 2 - Restoring Streams, Restoring Fish - The National Fish Passage Program:

Part 3 - Restoring Roads, Streams and Fish Through Improved Culverts - The National Fish Passage Program:

National Fish Passage Program 2011 Annual Report and Future Outlook

Video produced by FEMA on-the-ground in Vermont regarding the aftermath of the storm


Restore & Enhance - 25th Anniversary of the Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
By Matthew Filsinger and Joe Milmoe

thumbnail of PFW employees
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) program was officially established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1987. A group of Service biologists and numerous conservation partners had the vision to look beyond the boundaries of government fee-title holdings and see the need to work cooperatively with private landowners. They recognized that nearly 73 percent of U.S. lands are in private ownership and a vast majority of federal trust species used these areas during their life cycle. Intense stakeholder outreach concluded that the most effective way to achieve conservation success was to provide direct financial and technical assistance.

The Partners program was designed to complement many of the traditional Service easement programs by offering restoration and enhancement agreements for shorter time periods. This gives private individuals options to improve their property for targeted wildlife species and avoid having to make the sometimes difficult decision on a long-term easement contract.

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MMPA Celebration thumbnailThe Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was enacted in 1972. It prohibits the taking (i.e., hunting, killing, capture, and /or harassment) of marine mammals and enacted a moratorium on the import, export, sale and possession of marine mammal parts and products. However, the MMPA does provide for certain exceptions and authorizations. In addition, an exemption allows Alaskan Natives to hunt marine mammals for subsistence purposes

The MMPA calls for an ecosystem approach to natural resource management and conservation. It recognizes marine mammals as significant functioning elements in their ecosystems and requires that they be maintained at, or returned to, their optimum sustainable populations. Management of marine mammals requires coordination among a variety of interests, including Federal and State agencies, commercial industries, Native Alaskans, and international governments.

All marine mammals are protected under the MMPA, and some are also listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the conservation and management of sea and marine otters, polar bears, walruses, manatees, and dugongs under both the MMPA and ESA. The National Marine Fisheries Service has management jurisdiction under these Acts for all whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions. The USFWS has jurisdiction for import and export of all marine mammals listed under CITES.

The MMPA also established the Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), an independent government agency, to provide oversight of the marine mammal conservation policies and programs being carried out by the Federal agencies. For information on the MMC, click on their link below.

Fisheries and Habitat Conservation
International Affairs
Marine Mammal Commission
Endangered Species
Crimes Against Marine Mammals
Video - Protecting Our World's Marine Mammals - Celebarting the 40th Anniversary of the MMPA


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Featured Publications
2012 Summer Spring CoverEddies: Reflections on Fisheries Conservation
2010 December coverFish Lines
Screen shot of Yellow River spill fact sheet"Wildlife Response: Silvertip Pipeline Oil Spill Yellowstone River, Montana"
(pdf) . July 2011.

FY2010 Partners Accomplishent ReportFY2010 Partners Accomplishent Report
FY2010 Coastal Accomplishment ReportFY2010 Coastal Accomplishment Report


Hot Topics
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
Climate Change
Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill
Wind Turbine Guidelines
Online Training Helps Volunteers Fight Invasive Species


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Last updated: September 18, 2012
Fisheries and Habitat Conservation
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