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An employee in uniform posts a sign in front of a small lake.
Information icon Willie Booker, manager of USFWS's Orangeburg National Fish Hatchery, posts boundary signs at Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery near Millen, Georgia. Photo by USFWS.

Service to re-open Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will re-open Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery in Millen, Georgia. The transfer occurred through an agreement negotiated in December 2009 with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which has overseen the hatchery since 1996.

Bo Ginn NFH becomes the 71st hatchery in the National Fish Hatchery System. The Service expects to bring the hatchery, spread over 100 acres, into operation in the spring of 2011, at least on a limited scale, and to have it fully operational by 2012. The hatchery will employ up to six full time positions when completely staffed.

The Bo Ginn hatchery, located about halfway between Augusta and Savannah, has been recognized as a valuable asset for aquatic resource conservation in the Southeast Region.

The hatchery accesses crystal clear springs that are estimated to flow between seven and nine million gallons a day. It will serve as a refuge for threatened and endangered aquatic species and other rare species of concern.

“This facility has a unique and stable water source which can be vital in times of drought and other impacts including accelerating climate change,” says Allan Brown, Fisheries Program Supervisor for the Service’s Southeast Region. “Bo Ginn NFH can play a vital role in establishing a safe haven for imperiled, threatened and endangered fishes and other aquatic species.”

Species of fish raised at the hatchery will depend on the particular needs at the time and will be in cooperation with partners, including the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Interjurisdictional fish (fish that cross state, regional or national boundaries), such as striped bass, are priority species for the National Fish Hatchery System, and will likely be raised at Bo Ginn NFH. Local waters may be stocked depending on the management goals of the Service and its partners. The hatchery will work with species of fishes and mussels listed on federal and state threatened and endangered species lists.

The Bo Ginn Aquarium at the hatchery has been operated by the Jenkins County Development Authority for the past year. The Service is continuing the successful partnership with the Development Authority for the operation of the aquarium. The Service anticipates that this much visited facility will eventually become a fully functioning component of the hatchery and vital to its public use program.

In 1996, Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery was among five National Fish Hatcheries in the Southeast Region whose operations were transferred under Memorandum of Agreements (MOA) to states as a cost-cutting measure within the Service’s Fisheries Program. The hatchery was originally established in 1939 as a state fish hatchery prior to the operation of Magnolia Springs State Park . In 1948, the property was deeded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the creation of the Millen National Fish Hatchery. In 1988, this facility was renamed the Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium. A variety of fish, including sport fishes and imperiled fishes, were raised at this hatchery until the time of transfer. The land itself has remained in federal ownership since 1948.

The Service’s Fisheries Program has played a vital role in conserving America ’s fishery resources for over 130 years, and today is a key partner with states, tribes, federal agencies, other Service programs, and private interests in a larger effort to conserve fish and other aquatic resources. Established in 1871 by Congress through the creation of a U.S. Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries, the National Fish Hatchery System’s original purpose was to provide additional domestic food fish to replace declining native fish. Cultured fish were used to replace fish that were lost from natural (drought, flood, habitat destruction) or human (over-harvest, pollution, habitat loss due to development and dam construction) influences, to establish fish populations to meet specific management needs, and to provide for the creation of new and expanded recreational fisheries opportunities.

The National Fish Hatchery System has a unique responsibility in helping to recover species listed under the Endangered Species Act, restoring native aquatic populations, mitigating for fisheries lost as a result of federal water projects, and providing fish to benefit tribes and National Wildlife Refuges. The National Fish Hatchery System works closely with other Service biologists and with the states, tribes, and the private sector to complement habitat restoration and other resource management strategies for maintaining healthy ecosystems that support healthy fisheries.


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