U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Fish Habitats

Overview

Diverse, connected habitat is the foundation upon which Alaska’s world class fisheries solidly rest. In Alaska, fish inhabit, move among, and migrate between a huge variety of habitat types to meet their needs and complete their life cycle: small headwater streams, wetlands, lakes, sloughs, large rivers, clearwater side channels, estuaries, and the ocean.

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” If the basket is dropped, all is lost. Just like in farming and finances, there is stability in diversifying investments. The same can be said about fish and conserving a broad variety of habitats options.

Fish Creek_MatSu_USFWSKatrinaLiebich.jpg
Fish Creek, MatSu. Photo credit: USFWS/KatrinaLiebich
Northern lights over a river
Northern lights over a river. Photo credit: Carl Johnson

Salmon, whitefish, and other migratory fish we are working to conserve or that are found on Alaska’s refuges need unimpeded migration and movement corridors from headwaters to the sea. They need nursery habitats that provide food and shelter, spawning areas that provide the right conditions for egg incubation, and temperatures that fall within the range of what they need to thrive (for salmon, it shouldn’t exceed 17°C). From juvenile Coho Salmon that spend up to four years in freshwater to Dolly Varden that survive only because of perennial springs in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, fish also need places to spend the winter that don’t freeze.

We all know fish live in water, but many of us don’t realize that their world also stretches up onto the banks, into the floodplain, uplands, and beyond. Sure, fish don’t occupy that space. But what happens out of the water can affect them profoundly.

Read More:

Learn more about our Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation Program and how it's working to conserve fish habitats in Alaska.

Learn more about Alaska's recognized Fish Habitat Partnerships

View from aircraft of the Kuskokwim River.
View from aircraft of a sinuous river. Photo Credit: Katrina Liebich