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About the Hatchery

Quilcene National Fish Hatchery lies in a narrow valley on the east side of Washington's Olympic Peninsula on Highway 101 two miles south of Quilcene and at the confluence of the Big Quilcene River and Penny Creek. Quilcene National Fish Hatchery has a long history of raising and releasing fish. It has been in continuous operation since 1911.

The fish production program at Quilcene NFH is a cooperative effort involving many partners. Changes in fish production must meet legal mandates, adhere to several management plans, and be agreed to by all partners. Our partners include the Northwest Indian Fish Commission, Point No Point Treaty Council Tribes ( Port Gamble S' Klallam tribe, Jamestown S' Klallam tribe), Skokomish tribe, Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, Suquamish tribe, other federal agencies (NOAA fisheries), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Jefferson County and several private resource enhancement groups (Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement, Long Live the Kings) and other U.S. Fish & Wildlife offices, including the Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, Olympia Fish Health Center, & Abernathy Fish Technology Center, also provide technical support.

Quilcene NFH's fish production programs were reviewed by the Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG). They reviewed programs from July 9, 2007, and made recommendations to each facility. Many of these recommendations are reflected in our current fish production programs.


Quilcene National Fish Hatchery Facility

Covering slightly over 47 acres, Quilcene NFH's main facilities include 39 raceways, each 8 feet wide and 80 feet long, three water intake structures (two on the Big Quilcene River and one on Penny Creek,) a pre-settling pond, a pollution abatement pond, a hatchery building containing the office, conference room, break room, and tank room, an isolation/quarantine building, and a shop building all located on the west bank of the Big Quilcene River.

Quilcene National Fish Hatchery History

Quilcene NFH was authorized by 35 Stat. 589 on June 29, 1909 of Commerce and Labor to establish "two or more fish cultural stations on Puget Sound, or its tributaries in the State of Washington, for the propagation of salmon and other food fishes". The Act contains no specific language concerning the species the station was to rear or the specific waters to be stocked by the hatchery.

Originally constructed in 1911, Quilcene NFH has been expanded and improved many times. A century of continuous operation many species of fish have been raised at Quilcene NFH, including coho, chum, pink, Chinook, and sockeye salmon; and brook, cutthroat and rainbow trout. These fish were distributed into streams and rivers flowing into Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Early methods of fish culture were primitive. Hatchery workers would hang parts of horse or cow carcasses over the fish pond. Flies would then lay eggs in the decaying flesh and the maggots would fall off into the water, feeding the fish.

Later, fish food was made right at the fish hatchery by grinding up fish carcasses and beef liver, adding salt and vitamins. Today, commercial fish food manufacturers prepare specialized products for different species and sizes of fish from fry to adult broodstock, loading the pellets with nutrients to ensure healthy fish stocks and a high survival rate. The food's quality is monitored both by the manufacturer and by U.S. Fish & Wildlife nutritionists.

Last Updated: June 18, 2018
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