What We Do

The world’s rivers and lakes once teemed with abundant and diverse communities of fish, invertebrates, and plants.  However, aquatic species now represent some of the most imperiled organisms both in America and globally. National fish hatcheries are unique and powerful tool for wildlife conservation.  

National fish hatcheries use aquaculture to raise threatened, endangered, or at-risk species in a safe captive environment for eventual release into a natural setting. This work, along with habitat restoration, and other federal protections, can help boost and support wild populations.  

The National Fish Hatchery System works to support healthy, self-sustaining populations of fish and other aquatic species across the country. Our staff work to maintain excellence in aquatic conservation and to ensure healthy fisheries. We closely monitor the health, status, and trends of fisheries populations and aquatic habitats; and limit the outbreak and spread of 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
and disease-causing pathogens, or germs.

Management and Conservation

At the Neosho National Fish Hatchery USGS and USFWS staff determine the maturity and sex of pallid sturgeon broodstock broodstock
The reproductively mature adults in a population that breed (or spawn) and produce more individuals (offspring or progeny).

Learn more about broodstock
using ultrasound and endoscope technology.

Conservation of Imperiled Species - Many aquatic species are affected by human development and expansion and need our help. National fish hatcheries provide refuge for endangered species that enables scientists to learn about life requirements and how to improve these species’ chances to live in the wild.

Fish Production and Distribution - We raise fish to bolster or re-establish self-sustaining populations in the wild, to fulfill tribal responsibilities, support recreational fisheries, and mitigate impacts to fish populations associated with federal water projects. We work with states, tribes, and others to understand the unique ecology of different regions and distribute the type of species needed, whether they are for recreational or conservation purposes.

Applied Science and Technology - The basis for fish conservation is applied science and technology, which drive today’s management practices. Applied science provides the foundation for recovery and restoration programs and enables fisheries professionals to more effectively carry out their work. We conduct practical research in animal culture biology, genetics, ecological physiology, nutrition, biometrics and modeling, and cryopreservation.

Unparalleled Recreational Opportunities - Nearly 1 million people visit the National Fish Hatchery System every year for incredible opportunities to hike, bird, fish, visit an aquarium, and learn more about fish conservation. Our work to raise and conserve fish and their habitats enhances the enjoyment of over 55 million recreational anglers every year. 

Our Programs

Amanda George, a Lahontan National Fish Hatchery fish biologist, feeds Lahontan cutthroat trout fry at the hatchery’s aquatic habitat. Credit: Dan Hottle/USFWS
A fish with a reddish tone body with black spots on upper part of body, this side view of a Chinook salmon shows the salmon swimming right above a gravel riverbed.
Healthy fisheries are core to the conservation work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are working with partners to protect and enhance the health of fish and other aquatic animals in aquaculture and in the wild.

Our Services

Jeff Freund at Coleman National Fish Hatchery scoops winter-run Chinook salmon on March 2 before they were trucked to Battle Creek later that morning. Approximately 29,000 salmon were released into the North Fork of Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River where they once thrived. The fish are from the Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery captive broodstock broodstock
The reproductively mature adults in a population that breed (or spawn) and produce more individuals (offspring or progeny).

Learn more about broodstock

Fish Distribution and Stocking

The Service works with states, tribes, and communities to understand the unique ecology of different regions and to raise and distribute aquatic species for conservation and recreational purposes.