Fish Health Center
Fisheries Resources
Pacific Region
 

Fish Health Program: What Fish Health Centers Do

Fish health center personnel must apply knowledge of several scientific disciplines including fish biology, microbiology, epidemiology, toxicology, pathology, physiology, histology, and genetics. They must understand the conditions, individual requirements, interactions of wild and cultured fish, and how those factors influence disease and overall aquatic animal health.

Normal activities a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Health Center include:

  • Frequently checking on the general health of fish within hatcheries.
  • Screening for diseases (viral, bacterial, parasites) dangerous to fish.
  • Monitoring selected wild stocks of fish.
  • Recommending treatments for specific diseases.
  • Giving advice on how to prevent or minimize impacts of disease on fish populations.

Preventing Disease on Pacific Region Federal Hatcheries and Tribal Partner Hatcheries

 

Some kinds of salmon, especially spring Chinook, often return from the ocean carrying bacteria that cause a disease in young fish. The bacteria are Renibacterium salmoninarum and the disease that they cause is "Bacterial Kidney Disease," or BKD.

By testing the adult fish, we can collect eggs only from those fish that have low levels of the bacteria and are thus much less likely to pass the bacteria on to their offspring through infected eggs. This spawning method has greatly decreased the impact of BKD on cultured salmon.

Salmon sometimes return from the ocean carrying viruses. The Fish Health Centers test returning broodfish for viruses to prevent the introduction of serious diseases into the young fish raised in hatchery raceways.

Fish Health Centers monitor the health of all hatchery-raised fish to make sure that disease problems are not developing.


Testing for Fish Disease Problems

Despite our very best efforts at prevention, fish do sometimes develop diseases. These are diseases that are naturally present in hatchery water supplies (rivers and streams) or brought back from the ocean by adult fish. Diseases are treated by changes in their environment (for example, temperature, water flow, feeding) or sometimes through the use of drugs. In our Fish Health Centers, disease diagnosis and treatment is overseen by three veterinarians and other highly trained fish health professionals. Drugs are only used as a last resort and their use is highly controlled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), FDA (FDA Aquaculture Drug Basics), EPA, USDA, and state authorities.

Protecting the Health of Wild Fish

Every group of fish that we raise is rigorously tested for fish diseases before they leave the hatchery. This ensures that the fish from the hatchery will not cause disease problems for fish already in the wild, and it guarantees that the fish from the hatchery have the best possible chance to survive their trip to the ocean so that they can later return as adults.

Disease inspections and health requirements for the culture and movement of salmon in the Pacific Northwest are governed by the demanding requirements of the states of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, by tribes, by the Integrated Hatchery Operations Plan (IHOT), by Hatchery Genetics Management Plans (HGMPs), by Service policy, and by federal law. These include:

The Fish Health Centers also test thousands of wild fish from throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho so that we can better understand the impacts of diseases on wild fish populations. Learn More about the Wild Fish Health Survey.

 

About Our Program

The Pacific Region's Fish Heath Program protects the health of salmon propagated at the region's network of 15 National Fish Hatcheries and tribal partner programs. Our veterinarians and biologists--located in three Fish Health Centers located in Olympia, Washington, Orofino, Idaho, and Willard, Washington--assist partners across the Pacific Northwest with fish health issues and conduct the National Wild Fish Health Survey. Dr. Andrew E. Goodwin manages the program.

Back to Top
Fish Health Home



Find Our Facilities:

Pacific Region Map State of Idaho Map State of Oregon Map State of Washington Map State of Hawaii & other Pacific Islands

Fish Health Photos

Press play and/or advance the images by using the arrow buttons in the screen's top right. Or visit our Fish Health Program Flickr photoset.

Examine a Fish!

Click on the window to start the Prezi. You can also run the Prezi on a timer and/or view it in Fullscreen mode.


Pacific Region Field Notes


Connect With Us

rss icon RSS Follow Us At FlickrFlickr
Follow Us At FacebookFaceBook Follow Us At TwitterTwitter
webcam icon Webcam Follow Us At YouTubeYouTube