Conserving this Nation’s fish and other aquatic resources cannot be successful without the partnership of Tribes; they manage or influence some of the most important aquatic habitats both on and off reservations. In addition, the Federal government and the Service have distinct and unique obligations toward Tribes based on trust responsibility, treaty provisions, and statutory mandates.
Iron River NFH Lends a Helping Hand to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians operates a fish hatchery in Cherokee, North Carolina. Two years ago, the facility experienced a major flooding event and lost several thousand fish due to a clogged water intake, effectively shutting the water off to their hatchery.
Program Manager Robert Blankenship contacted Iron River National Fish Hatchery (NFH) with the hopes of obtaining any surplus coaster brook trout eggs to supplement his losses. Iron River NFH was able to supply the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians with 35,490 coaster brook trout eggs. Since then, the Tribe has requested all of the brook trout eggs that would normally be surplus. This year’s excess coaster brook trout egg production was over 398,000 eggs.
Generally, these eggs would be destroyed after all existing requests are met, but with the request coming from the Cherokee Tribe, all of the hatchery’s brook trout eggs will be utilized. Once the eggs were sufficiently developed (eyedup), they could be disinfected and packaged for shipping. Eggs were counted by volumetric displacement, disinfected in an iodine bath and wrapped in moist cloth. Special coolers were used to ship eggs overnight from Iron River, Wisconsin, to Cherokee, North Carolina. The eggs arrived in great condition and the Tribe was very appreciative of the support that the Iron River NFH provided.
The Iron River NFH maintains approximately 6,000 adult lake trout and coaster brook trout. These fish are spawned each fall and eggs are collected for restoration programs in the Upper Great Lakes. Eggs are shipped annually to other entities, including federal, state and tribal agencies, throughout the Midwest Region.