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 » 

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

The National Fish Hatchery System works with an incredible diversity of species that might surprise you.

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! This incredible diversity of species requires that we are always learning, adapting, and growing.

“People tend to only associate our work with just recreational fishing, but from the beginning, we have been working to restore declining populations of native fish and aquatic species,” said Nate Wilke, the Service’s branch chief of hatchery operations and applied science.

A primary goal of the National Fish Hatchery system is to help threatened or endangered fish and other aquatic species recover so they do not become extinct. Hatcheries hold imperiled species in captivity and study how to produce them, and then propagate and stock them back into their historical ranges. They also help prevent species from becoming endangered by raising them when they are in trouble but not listed.

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A male Apache trout swims among biologists in waders. The trout at Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery are farm raised, and spawned yearly.

Apache Trout From near Extinction to EcoTourism

Apache trout offer new opportunities for anglers who will come from far and wide to catch a fish that’s found only in the White Mountains of Arizona.

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tagged Lahontan cutthroat trout in Glen Alpine Creek in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Lahontan cutthroat returning to Fallen Leaf Lake

Highly-revered Lahontan cutthroat trout that disappeared from a California alpine lake more than 80 years ago are making their way back home.

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pallid sturgeon swimming

Saving the Pallid Sturgeon

You could go back 100 million years and find the same fish we see today gliding across the floors of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Pallid sturgeon are like a glimpse in the past.

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Eastern indigo snake

Snakes in a bag

A gaggle of biologists, zookeepers, college students and government officials traipsed through the Deep South longleaf pine forest one recent, gorgeous spring morning carefully clutching white pillowcases.

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holding a Texas pimpleback mussel

Imperiled Central Texas Mussels Bring Conservation Focus to the San Saba River

A biologist walking along the bank points out empty freshwater mussel shells with quirky names – pimpleback, pistolgrip, papershell – casualties of stranding during a time when the water ran too low.

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Wyoming toad

It's Tough to be a Toad

The Wyoming toad was once an abundant species commonly seen hopping around the Laramie Plains in Albany County, Wyoming. These adorable little lumps could be found in the floodplains of the Big and Little Laramie rivers and in ponds throughout the Laramie Basin.

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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 »

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

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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