About this Collection

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.

Original Mission

Responding to appeals from numerous sectors of the public, academia, and government, Congress charged the Commission with investigating and determining both the causes for declines in coastal and inland fisheries and “practicable methods that could be applied for their restoration.” The Commission was later charged with “supplementing declining native stocks of coastal and lake food fish through fish propagation.” These charges remain the conservation roots of our program today.

Conservation Efforts Today

From these original and somewhat daunting charges evolved the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish and Aquatic Conservation program. Today we  conserve threatened and endangered species, restore declining populations of native fish and aquatic species so they don’t become endangered, mitigate the impacts of federal water projects to tribal and recreational fisheries for the benefit of all Americans, and work with the states to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive and injurious species.

For 150 years, the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been a partner on the American landscape in the conservation and restoration of our nation’s aquatic resources. Since the inception as the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, we have worked collaboratively with tribes, states, landowners, partners, and stakeholders to achieve the goals of healthy, self-sustaining populations of fish and other aquatic species along with the conservation or restoration of their habitats. We work to ensure the health of our nation’s aquatic ecosystems and to enable all Americans to realize the ecological, recreational, and economic benefits provided by these critically important resources.