About Us

Since 1871 the National Fish Hatchery system has been at work improving recreational fishing and restoring aquatic species that are in decline, at risk, and are important to the health of our aquatic systems. Across the country, the network of National Fish Hatcheries work with states and tribes to conserve, restore and enhance the fish and aquatic resources of America for future generations. 

The Welaka National Fish Hatchery was built in 1926 and originally operated by the State of Florida. In 1938, the hatchery was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The hatchery is located South and West of St. Augustine, FL and North and West of Daytona Beach, FL on the St. Johns River.  We have ponds at two locations along County Road 309. Ponds near the aquarium are called the Welaka Unit, and a second group of ponds about three miles south of the Welaka Unit is called the Beecher Unit. The Beecher Unit is named for the spring that serves as the water supply. Beecher Spring has a flow of 4,000 gallons per minute at a constant temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Water for the Welaka Unit is pumped from the St. Johns River. 

Our Mission

Since 1871, National Fish Hatcheries have been applying science-based approaches to conservation challenges. We work with our partners and engage the public to conserve, restore, and enhance fish and other aquatic resources for the continuing benefit of the American people. Conservation is at the heart of what we do, and we recognize that we do this work for the American people–both the present generation who benefit today and future generations who will inherit our legacy of conserving America’s aquatic resources. 

Welaka National Fish Hatchery is charged with producing Atlantic Striped Bass for the St. Johns River in order to maintain the population for ecological, historical and economic purposes.  The hatchery also works with Gulf Coast states to produce and protect Gulf of Mexico Striped Bass from Florida to Georgia and Alabama.  Recently, the hatchery has begun work with two federally listed species, the federally threatened Eastern Indigo Snake and the federally endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. 

Our History

The Welaka National Fish Hatchery was built in 1926 and originally operated by the State of Florida. In 1938 the hatchery was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  In 2018 the hatchery began working with the federally threatened Eastern Indigo Snake.  Welaka NFH grows out the snakes before they are released into the wild.  Welaka NFH began working in 2019 with the federally endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow.  Like the Indigo snakes, the hatchery receives fledged sparrows and rears them until they are released into the wild.