Complex of Fish Health Center / Fish Technology Center/Genetics Lab
The Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center is located within the Pecos River Valley in Dexter, New Mexico. The center is dedicated to scientifically based protection, restoration, and recovery of aquatic species protected under the Endangered Species Act in the Southwest. It consists of three major programs: Captive Propagation and Augmentation (Fish Culture), Applied Research, and Aquatic Animal Health. Approximately 1 million fish from 14 different threatened and endangered fish species are currently supported.
The Southwestern Fish Health Unit provides diagnostic and fish disease screening services to fish hatcheries with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Tribal and state partners. We develop disease prevention and containment guidelines, and we work to forecast new emerging diseases to prevent outbreaks in the United States. We also help implement the national Wild Fish Health Survey.
Southwestern Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center’s current mission centers around two main objectives:
provide leadership in the scientifically based management of national fishery resources through development of new concepts and techniques to solve specific problems in aquatic restoration and recovery activities;
work with partners to provide state of the art Aquatic Animal Health services to protect and enhance the health of aquatic animal resources for the continuing benefit of the American public.
Dexter National Fish Hatchery was originally sanctioned as a National Fish Hatchery Under the Whie Act of 1930. The hatchery began producing species such as catfish and bass for the Southwestern United States in 1932 to support warm water recreational fishing.
The purpose of the Fish Culture program changed after the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the facility's official mission became housing and protecting threatened and endangered species. Dexter began working with six native fish species in November 1974: the Comanche Springs pupfish, Leon Springs pupfish, Big Bend gambusia, Pecos gambusia, Goodenough gambusia, and fountain darter.
Applied research was added as a program to the facility when it was designated a Fish Technology Center (Dexter National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center) in 1991. The goals were to carry out applied research studies including conservation genetics and investigating spawning and culture techniques of critically imperiled fishes of the Southwestern United States.
The Fish Health Center was moved from Pinetop, AZ to Dexter, NM in 2005 and was the last program to be added. As more non-fish species (salamanders, freshwater mussels, etc.) became federally listed, the program changed to Aquatic Animal Health to include those species in their work plans.