Fish and Aquatic Conservation

Fisheries Program

The Fisheries Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, whose roots can be traced back to the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries, has played a vital role in conserving America’s fisheries since 1871, and today is a key partner with States, Tribes, Federal agencies, other Service programs, and private interests in a larger effort to conserve fish and other aquatic resources.

The Program consists of almost 800 employees nationwide, located in 65 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices, 70 National Fish Hatcheries, 9 Fish Health Centers, 7 Fish Technology Centers and a Historic National Fish Hatchery. These employees and facilities provide a network that is unique in its broad on-the-ground geographic coverage, its array of technical and managerial capabilities, and its ability to work across political boundaries and embrace a national perspective. The Program supports the only Federal hatchery system, with extensive experience culturing more than 100 different aquatic species.

Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation

America’s fish and other aquatic resources are among the richest in the world. The Fisheries Program is working to keep them that way.

There are almost 400 aquatic species—fishes, mussels, plants—in the United States that need attention. Many fishes offer great sporting opportunities, or are species that feed people. The Fisheries Program works at the intersection of fisheries science and management, developing and using the latest techniques to conserve America’s fisheries.


Fisheries science is an integrative approach to understanding the biology, ecology, and economics of a fishery with the goal of sustainable management. Fisheries science is an integral component of the Fisheries Program and a solid basis for our work. We:

  • Analyze and approve new drugs and chemicals for aquatic species
  • monitor population levels and responses to environmental changes
  • map habitat usage
  • identify pathogens and diseases
  • breed and grow fish
  • evaluate population structure using genetics


In conserving America’s fisheries, the Fisheries Program ensures that these vital resources are available now and for the generations to come. Fisheries Program biologists are proud to have played a critical role in the protection and recovery of many species, including Apache trout. Added to the endangered species list in 1967, the Apache trout was down-listed to threatened and is currently on the verge of becoming the first federally threatened fish to be delisted as a result of conservation efforts.


The Fisheries Program applies scientific data to focus conservation activities on high-priority species and habitats. We are committed to protecting and maintaining stable populations and healthy habitats and restoring degraded habitats and depleted populations. The healthy habitat is vital to well managed aquatic resources, continuing ecological, recreational, commercial, and subsistence contributions to our nation’s prosperity.

Fisheries Program Vision

Working with partners to restore and maintain fish and other aquatic resources at self-sustaining levels and to support Federal mitigation programs for the benefit of the American public.


Last updated: September 1, 2015