For a variety of reasons, many species of fish have shown a marked decline in populations over the last 20-30 years. Sport and commercial fishermen alike are experiencing dwindling catches of striped bass along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Annual catches in the 7,000 metric ton range (25-30 million dollars) dropped to less than 2,000 metric tons (4-5 million dollars) signaling a major problem within the striped bass fishery. While all the reasons for this decline are not entirely known, it is agreed that a combination including loss of habitat, construction of dams, dredging of rivers, over fishing and various forms of pollution are contributing and interwoven factors.
Along with striped bass, other species such as shad, sturgeon, and red drum are also experiencing dwindling populations. These are anadromous or estuarine species, meaning they spend their lives along our coast in saltwater or in the case of anadromous fish, return once a year to freshwater to spawn.
Because their ranges transcend local, state, and in some cases, national boundaries, concern for their well-being is a major activity for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Conservation measures are necessary in order to maintain healthy populations of these fish in our public waters. National fish hatcheries are helping to achieve these objectives by enhancing and restoring native populations for all to enjoy.