Edenton National Fish Hatchery
Southeast Region
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About Us



Who We Are

Edenton National Fish Hatchery (NFH), operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has been producing fish for public use and restoration for well over a century. Established in 1898, the 63 acre hatchery is one of the oldest, built in the historic port town of Edenton, North Carolina at the head of the Albemarle Sound, 90 miles southwest of Norfolk, Virginia.

Edenton National Fish Hatchery is one of fourteen hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Southeast Region. These hatcheries serve a vital role in the management of our fishery resources. 

What We Do

This is a National Fish Hatchery which is administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and is supported by your Federal tax dollars. Fish raised on Federal hatcheries are stocked in public waters to support Federal fishery responsibilities mandated by law. These include fish for restoration where, for example, man-made dams have altered a stream’s natural reproductive capability; to recover threatened or endangered populations; to restore interjurisdictional fish populations, or to support depleted recreational fish populations in Federal and state waters.

Edenton maintains the capability to quickly respond and restore fish populations decimated by man-made or natural disasters. In recent years, Edenton has produced largemouth bass and bluegill to recover waters devastated by hurricanes Floyd and Isabel.

Edenton NFH provides fishery management assistance to National Wildlife Refuges in the Carolinas and Virginia. The hatchery also provides assistance in state waters of the Chowan/Nottoway/Meherrin/Blackwater River system, focusing on restoration of declining river herring (Alewife and Blueback herring) populations, which may require hatchery production in the future.

How We Do It

Edenton NFH is a warmwater hatchery. This means the fish raised here do best in water temperatures above 65 degrees. 

For the production of Atlantic striped bass, personnel from Edenton NFH, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and North Carolina Marine Fisheries collect adult “broodfish” from the wild during spawning runs. These adults are transported to the Watha state fish hatchery where they are monitored for egg maturation. They spawn naturally in circular tanks where the eggs are collected for hatching. The five-day-old fry are collected and transported to Edenton for grow-out.

The rearing ponds are fertilized to encourage the growth of tiny microorganisms on which the young fry feed until they reach fingerling size of about one to three inches.  Most hatcheries stock their striped bass at this size. Edenton on the other hand, grades them to uniform sizes, and re-stocks ponds for what is called “Phase-II growout”. These fish are grown to around eight inches in length and released in late fall. While this method is more intensive, it yields much greater survival due to reduced predation and better (cooler) water temperatures at stocking.

Edenton NFH vehicle releasing water into a pondThe ponds where the fish are reared are specially constructed with a concrete catch basin or “kettle” in front of the drain. When the fish are ready to be transferred, various size screens can be inserted in the kettle to allow the water, but not the fish, to drain out. The fish collect here and can be removed with nets when the pond is nearly empty. Fish are weighed and counted and then loaded onto specially designed distribution trucks with oxygen for transport to stocking sites.

Once at the stocking site, hatchery biologists pump water from the river or lake into the tanks on the distribution truck for a period of 30 minutes to an hour or more. This is to acclimate the fish to the water in terms of temperature and water chemistry (pH, salinity, etc). Once released, they are not shocked by a sudden change of water, and disperse into the receiving waters in good health.

American shad production is somewhat different. Wild broodfish are collected from the rivers, and brought to Edenton where tissue samples are taken for genetic analysis and tracking. The fish spawn in circular tanks at the hatchery, and the eggs are hatched in special incubation jars. The fry are fed newly hatched brine shrimp for about a week, then released into North Carolina rivers.



(252) 482-4118
FAX: (252) 482-2106

Edenton NFH Staff Directory
Name Position Email Address Telephone Ext
Stephen Jackson Hatchery Manager stephen_jackson@fws.gov 24
Ronnie Smith Deputy Manager ronnie_smith@fws.gov 23
Marie Bullock
Administrative Assistant edith_bullock@fws.gov 21
Bud Clayton Engineering Equipment Operator bud_clayton@fws.gov 22
Aubrey Onley Biological Science Technician aubrey_onley@fws.gov 22
Sam Pollock Biological Science Technician sam_pollock@fws.gov 25













About our Fish

  • Fish Species and Capability
    • Striped bass (interjurisdictional restoration):
      • 750,000 Phase I fingerlings
      • 225,000 Phase II sub-adults.
    • American shad: 4,000,000 fry.
    • Serve as emergency refugium and/or conduct fish culture trials with endangered species, such as Cape Fear Shiners, Shortnose & Atlantic sturgeon, and various mussel species.
    • Provide other species (largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, etc.) to State partners on an as-needed basis.
  • Restoration of interjurisdictional Atlantic striped bass
  • Because “interjurisdictional” fish move across local, state, and sometimes national boundaries, concern for their well-being is a major activity for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Conservation measures are necessary in order to maintain healthy populations of these fish in our public waters. Edenton NFH produces more than 200,000 “Phase-II” (large) striped bass for interjurisdictional restoration each year. Fish that were raised and tagged at Edenton have been caught from Cape Hatteras to New England.
  • Restoration of interjurisdictional American shad
American shad is an important food and gamefish. Landings in the late 1950s exceeded 5,000 metric tons, and this number dwindled to near zero in 2005. Edenton is currently focusing restoration efforts for American shad to stock three million fry per year into the Roanoke River. In future years, other river systems will likely be enhanced with hatchery reared shad.



Frequently Asked Questions

    Where can I purchase a fishing license?

    To review North Carolina fishing regulations and to purchase a license, please contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission at 1-888-248-6834 or visit them online at http://www.ncwildlife.org/Fishing/index.htm.

    The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service does not issue fishing licenses.


Why do we need federal hatcheries and who pays for them?

    This is a national fish hatchery which is supported by tax dollars. Fish raised on Federal hatcheries are stocked in public waters to support Federal fishery responsibilities mandated by law. These include fish for restoration where, for example, man-made dams have altered a stream’s natural reproductive capability; or to restore threatened or endangered populations. Fish are also used to support recreational fishing programs in Federal and state waters.


What kind of fish do you raise?

    Edenton NFH is a warmwater hatchery which means we raise fish that do best in water temperature above 65 degrees. The Atlantic Striped Bass and the American Shad are regular tenants of Edenton NFH, but other species occasionally become the focus of various restoration projects.


Where do you stock your fish?

    Our primary area of focus is the rivers and streams of North Carolina but Edenton NFH also provides fish for the states of South Carolina and Virginia to aid in their restoration efforts.


How do you get the eggs from the fish?

    Personnel from Edenton NFH and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission collect adult “broodfish” from the wild during spawning runs. These adults are transported to Edenton NFH where they are monitored for egg maturation. They spawn naturally in circular tanks and the eggs are hatched in special incubation jars. Fry are either stocked into receiving waters or placed in grow-out ponds for later stocking at a larger size.

Do you provide fish to private individuals?

    This was once a function of the National Fish Hatchery system. “Farm pond” stocking is no longer considered a Federal responsibility, and fish are no longer provided to individuals. All the fish raised at this facility are stocked into public waters.

Do you give tours of the hatchery?

              Large groups, as well as small, are given tours by station personnel, if arrangements are made in advance. Contact the Hatchery Office at 252-482-4118 for more details and to learn about a variety of exciting volunteer opportunities.


Economic Impact

Local Impact

Last updated: May 7, 2010