The Midwest Fisheries Center is the region’s Fish Technology Center for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish Technology Centers provide leadership in science-based management of trust aquatic resources through applied research and the development of new concepts, strategies and techniques to solve problems in aquatic resource conservation. Established in 2013, the Midwest Fisheries Center’s mission is: “Working in partnership, we provide leadership in science, technology, and education for conservation of aquatic ecosystems emphasizing fisheries, aquatic invasive species, genetics, and aquatic animal health for the benefit of the public”. Within the Midwest Fisheries Center the La Crosse Fish Health Center, Whitney Genetics Lab, and the La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office are housed to meet this mission.

What We Do

Our staff work together to monitor aquatic native and invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
populations, ensure the health of hatchery-reared fish, monitor health in wild fish populations and use leading edge genetics technology for early detection and monitoring of invasive carp.

Key initiatives include:

  • Management and control plan for bighead, black, grass and silver carp in the United States
  • National Fish Habitat Action Plan
  • National Fish Passage Partnership
  • National Aquatic Animal Health Plan
  • National Wild Fish Health Survey
  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Our Organization

The Midwest Fisheries Center houses the La Crosse Fish Health Center, the La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, the Whitney Genetics Laboratory, and administrative, GIS, and  outreach staff, as well as the Regional Watercraft Safety Coordinator.

Juvenile Northern Pike in aquarium at Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, South Dakota
The Fish and Aquatic Conservation program leads aquatic conservation efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are committed to tackling the nation’s highest priority aquatic conservation and recreational challenges to conserve, restore, and enhance fisheries for future generations.

Our Species

Staff at the Midwest Fisheries Center are involved in a number of applied research, fisheries management, and monitoring projects. These include aquatic animal pathogen diagnostics and health monitoring, invasive carp environmental DNA early detection and monitoring, native aquatic species genetics projects, GIS and telemetry projects, and management of native fish, mussels and invasive carp conducted in partnership with state natural resource agencies, tribes, universities and other federal partners including the U. S. Geological Survey and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Projects and Research

In 2023, the Data Branch was established at the Midwest Fisheries Center to serve the data management needs of the various program areas within the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program in Region 3. In doing so,  we are better able to meet our conservation mission by  improving open access to and utility of the data we collect for the public and our conservation and management...

Understanding seasonal movements and habitat preferences of invasive species is one key to controlling them. If you want to control an invasive species, you must know where they are. To control them efficiently, you need data on their hotspots, where they live during different times of the year, and when they are most active during the day. Acoustic telemetry is one way that biologists are...

The Upper Iowa River is rich with recreation

It's one of the state's most popular rivers for canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and fishing.

The Upper Iowa River offers the most public land access of all Iowa Rivers.

The Scenic River and Water Trail meanders through limestone bluffs and driftless trout streams and draws visitors from all over the country....

Unknown Cause of Mass Mortality Events in Mussels

Across the country, scenes of thousands of freshwater mussel shells scattered on the banks and bottoms of lakes and rivers haunts scientists. For the most part these mussel die-offs are unexplained and mysterious. Pollution and contaminants are a well known cause of mortalities but in the case of these die-offs there were no contaminants...

Visit Us

Our lobby features informational displays describing local aquatic wildlife, our scientific research, conservation efforts, a Mississippi River mural, and an aquarium of local native fish. The lobby is open to the public. Our laboratories and other work areas are not generally open for tours so we encourage visitors to email or call to pre-arrange a tour. 

Our Library

A graphic showing a red stop sign with a boat on a ramp.
Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species starts with all of us. By working together we can protect our aquatic resources and recreational opportunities for future generations.
A pile of mussels.
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...
Zebra mussels on moss balls in front of Betta Buddies and Shrimp Buddies packaging
Looking for office décor? Do you have fish in need of somewhere to hide? How about a new fuzzy, low maintenance friend to welcome into your home? Some will say the soft and spongy freshwater moss ball can help you with any of these needs.
a big silver colored fish
Just like in human populations, fish diseases can emerge and spread naturally, or they can be unintentionally spread from one population of fish to another. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s fish health centers have launched a new tool to help in the fight to protect wild fisheries.

Get Involved

The Midwest Fisheries Center offers environmental education activities for community groups and schools. In addition, the center can lend fishing poles to local community groups. Every July, the center co-sponsors Youth Outdoor Fest in La Crosse, Wisconsin in partnership with the La Crosse Parks, Recreation, and Forestry department.

Location and Contact Information