The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries Program has played a vital role in conserving and managing fish and other aquatic resources since 1871 when Congress established the position of Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries in response to concern about the decline in natural food fish supplies.
Today, the Fisheries Program is an important partner with states, Native American Tribes, other governments, other Service programs, private organizations, public institutions, and interested citizens in a larger effort to restore and maintain fish and other important aquatic resources at self-sustaining levels and to support federal mitigation programs for the benefit of all the American public. To achieve that vision, the Fisheries Program is committed to working with our partners to:
• Protect the health of aquatic habitats.
The Pacific Northwest possesses rich and diverse natural resources. Salmon and steelhead are more than an icon; they are national treasures in serious decline. Western rivers were once among the most productive in the world. The Columbia River alone had runs of five species of Pacific salmon, steelhead and other anadromous fish totaling as many as 10 to 16 million fish that supported both Tribal and large commercial fisheries.
Human pressures on our valuable fishery resources are becoming extreme. The genetic diversity and geographic distribution of these fish are shrinking. The Pacific Region has reached a point where many migratory fish species are either listed or being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. These listings are increasingly straining the economic, social, and cultural fabric of the Pacific Region. The impact of some of these declining fish species are national and international in scope and complexity with legal implications to federal responsibilities under both international and Tribal treaties.
The Service takes a holistic approach to fishery conservation, focusing on a broad array of scientific fishery management and conservation efforts. The Pacific Region Fisheries Program provides a network of 25 field stations with about 260 employees in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Hawaii. The network includes 15 national fish hatcheries producing approximately 60 million salmon and steelhead each year, three fish health centers, two fish and wildlife offices, three fisheries resources offices, the Service’s largest fish technology center, and a Lower Snake River Compensation Program office that administers the production program and funds the operation of 26 state and tribal hatchery, research, and fish health facilities using monies generated by the Bonneville Power Administration's sale of hydroelectric power.