Management and Conservation
The next time you go fishing, you might just catch a fish that was raised at Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery. Since 1871, National Fish Hatcheries have been responding to conservation challenges affecting America’s fish and other aquatic species. Producing fish continues to be an irreplaceable tool in managing or restoring fisheries along with habitat conservation. In doing so, we help provide recreation opportunities to America’s 34 million anglers who spend $36 billion annually in pursuit of their favored pastime.
Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery raises channel catfish to support Tribal Trust responsibilities in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Additionally, the hatchery continues a long-term reimbursable conservation agreement with the Fort Hood Military base to produce catchable-size channel catfish for recreation.
The hatchery also maintains the only captive refuge population of the federally endangered Clear Creek gambusia. And in 2017, the hatchery began culturing 6 native Texas freshwater mussels.
Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery’s primary mission is to produce and provide channel catfish in support of recreational fishing programs on Tribal lands across the four state Region of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. In addition to significant social, recreational, and conservation-partnership benefits, the catfish program also provides significant economic benefits to our Tribal partners. In 2018, it was estimated that channel catfish provided by the hatchery results in over $8 million of economic value on an annual basis. This long-established program continues to be an important partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our Tribal partners.
To do this work, the hatchery has 30 ponds ranging in size from 0.25 acres to 1.5 acres with a total of 28 surface acres for fish production. The fish culture infrastructure consists of a feed storage building, holding house for egg and early fish development, four 60-foot raceways, and eight 20-foot circulars are housed under a shade.
The facility also has infrastructure for working with endangered species including an Endangered Species laboratory. It contains aquariums and circular tanks of various sizes, an in-vitro laboratory for freshwater mussel culture, a host fish laboratory and numerous docks and other unique structures for researching freshwater mussel production.
Our Projects and Research
National Fish Hatcheries raise fish and other aquatic species – like crayfish and mussels - to help restore and sustain important fish and other aquatic species for the benefit of the American people. Freshwater mussels play very important roles in our rivers and lakes filtering the water and creating habitat for fish and aquatic insects fish like to eat. With declining fish populations and declining freshwater mussel populations becoming prevalent across the world, fish hatchery operations are important than ever.
In addition to our three main programs, Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery continues a decades-long reimbursable conservation agreement with the Fort Hood Military Base in which the hatchery provides sportfish for recreational opportunities for base service personnel.
The Station has also partnered with the Texas Comptroller Office and San Antonio River Authority to investigate the development of freshwater mussel culture through reimbursable agreements.
Additionally, the facility has partnered with various Universities, both inside and outside of Texas, to provide live freshwater mussels for critical research projects.