With much of America’s waters impaired, fish populations continue to decline. Fragmented restoration efforts have not done enough to reverse these trends. Seeing the need for a national initiative, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council recommended that the Service initiate a partnership effort modeled after the highly effective North American Waterfowl Management Plan in its 2002 report, “A Partnership Agenda for Fisheries Conservation.” The Council stated that the Service is “the Federal agency best positioned to work cooperatively in developing the National Aquatic Habitat Plan in full partnership with other agencies having statutory authority, including the States and Tribes."
In September 2003, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies endorsed the concept and assumed a lead role in developing the comprehensive national fisheries habitat strategy in coordination with other existing fisheries habitat planning actions. The National Fish Habitat Initiative grew to become a science-based, voluntary and non-regulatory, nationwide strategy, endorsed by numerous partners and stakeholders, State fish and wildlife agency leaders, and 19 Federal agencies.
With this strong base of support, the National Fish Habitat Action Plan was signed on April 24, 2006. It was then updated in 2012. The Action Plan is an important tool to help the Service and its partners achieve strategic conservation goals for aquatic resources.
Since 2006, a great deal has been accomplished in support of the Action Plan, including: