New Hampshire Fish Conservation Program
To Protect and Restore Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems That Support the Full Array of New Hampshire's Native Fish
The objective of the Fish Conservation Program is to protect and restore healthy aquatic ecosystems that support the full array of New Hampshire’s native fish, including both resident and migratory species.
The Fish Conservation Program began in 2005, with the completion of New Hampshire’s Wildlife Action Plan. During the planning process, it became apparent that there was very little information available on the status of many fish species in New Hampshire. After consulting with a variety of experts, from university professors to fisheries biologists in the region, a list of “fish species of conservation concern” was developed for the Wildlife Action Plan.
Using records from as far back as the late 1930s, Inland Fisheries staff began to conduct surveys to better understand the status of New Hampshire’s fish species of concern. The information gained in this work proved to be valuable during the recent revision of New Hampshire’s Threatened and Endangered Species List. It also increased our knowledge of the distribution of many species and allowed us to see, firsthand, the many threats facing aquatic resources in New Hampshire today.
In 2007, the Fish Conservation Program was expanded to include the restoration of diadromous fish (fish species that migrate between freshwater and saltwater). Diadromous fish populations have declined due to a variety of threats, but the most important factor is limited access to freshwater habitat due to the many dams built throughout the state over the past three centuries. The goal for diadromous fish restoration is to restore, to the extent possible, populations of diadromous fish to their historic levels of abundance. This work involves a number of strategies including dam removals, improving fish passage at dams, fish transfers, hatchery propagation, stocking, and habitat protection/restoration. Learn more about diadromous fish restoration activities in New Hampshire.
The Fish Conservation Program is intended to be a resource for conservation commissions, planning boards, and local or regional conservation organizations to help guide decisions related to aquatic resources. Additionally, a goal of the program is to develop a grass roots interest where local citizens find a sense of awareness and stewardship for fish and their habitats in New Hampshire.
Examples of Fish Conservation work:
- Fish distribution surveys for species requiring additional conservation action listed in the Wildlife Action Plan, including the state endangered American brook lamprey, the state threatened bridle shiner, round whitefish, banded sunfish, swamp darter, redfin pickerel, redbelly dace, finescales dace, and wild brook trout.
- Diadromous fish restoration projects with a focus on American shad, river herring, Atlantic salmon, American eel, and sea lamprey.
- Collecting fish data for use in conservation planning, water quality assessments, ecological research, and a variety of other applications.
- Collecting temperature data from select rivers and streams.
- Identifying threats to aquatic habitats and helping to prioritize and implement restoration projects.
- Identifying examples of high priority aquatic habitats in need of protection.
- Encouraging the protection of rich and sustainable fish communities and good water quality.