In Six Months' Time
By David Hoskins
David Hoskins is the Assistant Director for Fish
and Aquatic Conservation in Washington, D.C.
Six months ago, I was very pleased and honored to join the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in my new capacity as Assistant Director for Fish and Aquatic Conservation. I look forward to working with my colleagues and our partners to implement the Service’s mission to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
Within the Service, the fish program has a long and proud history. In 1871, Congress established the U.S. Fish Commission. Shortly thereafter, President Grant appointed the first Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries. The Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program’s staff has worked nationwide for over 140 years with our partners to conduct high quality research, develop new technologies to rear and manage fish, conserve and protect aquatic species, and restore their habitats.
The threats confronting our fish and aquatic resources today, although different than when the U.S. Fish Commission was first established in 1871, are every bit as challenging. In addition to the need to maintain water quality, ensure adequate in-stream flows, and protect and restore habitats on which these species depend, many native freshwater species are now at risk of extinction. As a result, the program is increasingly focused on the conservation of imperiled native fish and mussel species. This includes working to prevent the introduction, establishment, and spread of aquatic invasive species, such as the zebra mussel and Asian carp, which not only threaten native species but also cost the nation billions of dollars each year.
During my first six months on the job I have met with the program’s staff in Washington D.C. and across the country to learn firsthand about these problems and the tools at our disposal to conserve and protect aquatic species. I have toured fish health and technology centers, visited several of our national fish hatcheries, and been out in the field to see fish passage projects. I also testified in September before Congress in support of a Service proposal to expedite the listing of injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act to help prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species. In this issue of Eddies, you’ll read a smattering of such work going on around the country.
Needless to say, it has been a busy six months. Although we face a number of challenges, including significant financial ones, I have been truly and uniformly impressed with the expertise, dedication and commitment of our staff. Working together, I am confident that we can continue to build on the long-standing and proud history of the program to address today’s conservation challenges.
But our success in addressing these challenges and accomplishing the Service’s mission will require more than federal dollars and a hard working and talented staff. It also depends on our ability to reach out to and work with tribes, state fish and wildlife agencies, local governments, universities, industry, non-profit outdoor recreation and conservation organizations and, of course, the American people.
This summer, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council completed work on its comprehensive assessment and strategic vision for the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program. I hope that the report will serve as a springboard for our own internal strategic planning process, informed by the input and perspectives of a wide range of other partners and constituents with whom I also will be meeting in the coming weeks and months. I look forward to working with each of you to construct and realize that shared vision for our fish and aquatic resources.