In the early days of American civilization, settlers couldn’t just buy their meat and produce it in the neighborhood market like we do today. They relied on hunting, farming, and fishing to support themselves and their families. Back then there were no harvest limits for fish or size restrictions on the size of the fish. Many species have been overfished and this has resulted in a rapid decline in fish populations. People began to understand the need for conservation to protect these precious resources. Many US states sell fishing licenses and use those funds for conservation purposes.
Fish hatcheries were established in 1872 and are common in the United States today. Hatcheries are scientific facilities where artificial breeding and hatching can help repopulate endangered fish species and preserve native fish species. With proper management of the hatchery, fish raised in a hatchery will be released back into the wild once they are large enough to survive on their own
Some of the advantages of a fish hatchery system are:
- Offer valuable educational, contact and research opportunities
- Help with conservation efforts
- Repopulate native fish species
- Storage ponds and lakes for the recreational angler
- Sold for eating
The National Fish Hatchery System (NFHS), a program of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, operates over 140 hatcheries in the US and has led to even more national restoration programs. The NFHS works nationwide with partners such as states, landowners, tribes, and stakeholders to create and maintain healthy fish populations. The NFHS is a prime example of effective fry management.
While hatchery management is a critical element of conservation, nothing replaces responsible fishing. Over time, anglers have almost inevitably become the most active advocates of fish protection. In our life we have seen a significant decline in fish populations. To protect the resource we love so much, we need to demonstrate sound practices and teach future generations to do the same.
Read more tips on fishing and protection, and secure your fishing license, which can be used to fund conservation programs nationwide.