Fish and Aquatic Conservation
sockeye salmon up close
Sockeye salmon. Photo credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS


Celebrating 150 years!  

Our conservation roots run deep. In 1871, people recognized that America’s fisheries were in trouble and called on congress to act. The United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries was formed on February 9, 1871. Their charge was clear - to determine if America’s fisheries were declining, and if so, to figure out how to protect them.  

Fast forward 150 years. Our name may have changed and the species we work with - it’s not just fish any longer - but one thing remains the foundation of all we do. We work to keep fish and other aquatic species safe, healthy, and productive for you, the American people. Read more » 


Cupped hands hold about a dozen small brown mussels near the surface of a river.

Making Waves in Conservation Technology

Through the years, advances in technology have dramatically impacted the conservation landscape. In the fisheries field, this rapid evolution of new research helps us to better understand and protect aquatic resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish and Aquatic Conservation program is advancing cutting-edge technologies across the country that will shape the future of aquatic conservation for years to come. 

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Environmental DNA (eDNA) is opening up new tools in the fight against invasive species.

Environmental DNA sampling is a new technology that could give us the ability to tell what species are present in a river or lake just by sampling the water.  By sampling waters that could potentially be invaded by these species, the detection of their DNA can indicate the potential presence of the fish itself.

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A person with latex gloves holds a rack of large plastic cylinders.
Water sampling tubes for eDNA testing. Photo by USWFS.

The Ocean’s Mysterious Vitamin Deficiency

When staff at Coleman National Fish Hatchery noticed their fish becoming disoriented, in early January 2020, it triggered a far ranging investigation that had ramifications far beyond the hatchery. 

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Hundreds of pink fish eggs under water. The eggs are reflected on the surface of the water.
Chinook salmon eggs at Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Photo by USFWS

Engineering Solutions help to build better for wildlife

Getting fish past dams that power electrical grids, under highways or around irrigation systems is no easy task. It requires a blend of biology, engineering and hydrology to build a passage that fish will swim through. New specialized research facilities at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center are helping researchers develop engineering design criteria to ensure the fish have a smooth ride. 

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A silvery fish with blue speckled fins barely breaks the surface of the water.
Arctic grayling at Bozeman Fish Technology Center in Montana by Mikaela Oles/USFWS

Cupped hands hold about a dozen small brown mussels near the surface of a river.

Freshwater Mussels and Fish: A Timeless Love Affair

Beneath the surface of the water, embedded in river bottoms, hidden in estuaries, and mistaken for rocks, lurk the invisible engineers of our aquatic ecosystems. Throughout our waterways, from urban rivers to the country streams, countless freshwater mussels are cleaning the water, taking out the trash, and stabilizing the entire aquatic community.

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They Grow What! Puzzle pieces of a gopher tortoise, wyoming toad, freshwater mussels, and florida grasshopper sparrow

Gopher tortoise head start program? Yeah, we do that!

From fish to mussels, from wild rice to toads and yes, even gopher tortoises. Across the nation our network of national fish hatcheries raise 108 species for conservation – including five species of amphibians, seventy-three species of fish, twenty-five mussel species and two reptiles!

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Up close with a Bear River Cutthroat trout

Spring-run Spiciest Trout in the West

If variety is truly the spice of life, then Cutthroat Trout — known best for a splash of red on their lower jaw — are pretty spicy (so are Rainbow Trout). With over a dozen recognized subspecies representing four major evolutionary/geographical groups, these trout vary wildly in size and looks.

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JOBS
Fish Biologists Shawn Nowicki, Cheryl Kaye and Mary Henson check sea lamprey traps in the Grand River, Ohio.
Fish Biologists Shawn Nowicki, Cheryl Kaye and Mary Henson check sea lamprey traps in the Grand River, Ohio. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS

Do you have a passion for science, conservation, outreach, or research? A career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program just might be for you. Learn more »


ARTIFACTS
Early wooden tongs used for picking out dead fish eggs by hand.
Early wooden tongs used for picking out dead fish eggs by hand.
Credit: Sam Stukel, USFWS.

Preserving the History of Conservation


PODCAST
Fish of the Week Podcast

Fish of the Week! Join us every Monday for this new podcast


Hatchery History
Orangeburg South Carolina Fisheries Station

Today there are 18 national fish hatcheries in operation that are more than a century old. Here are a few of our hundred-year-old hatcheries that are still paving the way for conservation today! Learn more »


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