History of the National Fish Strain Registry
The National Fish Strain Registry (NFSR) was originally developed as a trout management tool in the 1970’s with the idea that managers needed essential information on strain history, post-stocking performance, habitat requirements, and genetic profiles to effectively manage fish populations for both sustained public use and genetic conservation. Fish from readily available populations were shipped throughout the country and stocked indiscriminately into many fisheries. Today the long-term detrimental impacts of this practice on resident natural fish populations are well documented. As managers became aware of the genetic consequences of mixing adapted and non-adapted populations, the need for detailed information for all managed fish populations increased dramatically. Comparative information on performance, behavioral, and genetic traits of candidate populations frequently was not available to the fisheries personnel who made the decision on which population was used in a production or management program.
In addition, rapid growth of commercial aquaculture since the mid-1970’s reinforced the need for detailed performance information to support decisions on which strain will be most successful in a specific production situation. A centralized database was needed to make strain characterization and performance information readily available to all fisheries personnel.
In 1994, the U.S. Geological Survey, Research & Development Laboratory (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Hatcheries undertook a joint project to catalog the strain characteristics and performance information of managed fish populations, both cultured and wild populations, into a single database. Harold Kincaid and others developed the resulting database, the National Fish Strain Registry, to provide a standardized data set for each reported population of a species. Types of information in the NFSR include: broodstock history, life history, behavior, reproduction, stress tolerance, disease resistance, culture, post-stocking performance, habitat preference, and genetic profile traits. The National Fish Strain Registry is a dynamic database that can be updated as new information become available on each population.
Resource managers of imperiled species as well as professionals working on non-fish aquatic species recognize the importance of this type of information for natural resource conservation management. For example, genetic information on distinct population segments would assist in management strategies for augmenting from established hatchery broodstock. Enhancement of the NFSR includes components of cryopreservation of gametes, genetic evaluation of captive and wild stocks, and links to the National Wild Fish Health database and GIS database. This will broaden the scope of the database and be responsive to the needs of our partners and to the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve and protect aquatic resources.