Tag Archives: fish hatcheries

First Micmac Fish Harvest

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a unique relationship with federally-recognized Native American Tribes, as do all Federal agencies. This relationship is defined by treaties, statutes and agreements, and differs from relationships with state and local governments.  In fact, Tribes are sovereign nations and the government works with them in nation-to-nation manner. The Northeast Region is committed to working with Tribes to conserve and manage wildlife resources. There are 19 Federally recognized Tribes in the Northeast, from Maine to Virginia. Each year, the Service administers Tribal Wildlife Grants program, providing financial and technical assistance for projects that benefit fish and wildlife resources and their habitat that are a priority for Tribes.  One recent recipient of a grant is the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, headquartered in Presque Isle, Maine.

The Aroostook Band is part of the Micmac Nation, comprised of 29 bands with ancestral ties to the St. Lawrence, Maritime Provinces and other regions along the Atlantic Seaboard in Canada and the United States.  The Tribe gained federal recognition in November of 1991, and now has approximately 1,240 members. The Aroostook Band is known for creating beautiful black ash baskets, quillwork birch bark boxes, and floral wooden sculptures. Last month, the Aroostook Band unveiled their newest creation, a recirculating aquaculture brook trout fish hatchery that was made possible by their Tribal Wildlife grant. The new fish hatchery has allowed the Tribe to grow brook trout, a traditional food source, and the first harvest went off in April without a hitch.

Like other fish species that are native to Maine’s waterways, the brook trout has long been an important part of the Aroostook Band’s cultural traditions and subsistence. The first brook trout fish harvest marked an important milestone for the Tribe, and fed the Tribal Council and guests at a Tribal Council meeting. It was incredibly thrilling for the community and especially for one Tribal Councilor, who remarked “25 years ago we were sitting in a small office on Main Street and this was just a pipe dream, now we are doing it!” One hundred pounds of fish were harvested, and the surplus was distributed to Tribal elders. Everyone agreed the fish tasted delicious! In addition, because these trout were grown in a closed system, they are free of contaminants.

Additionally, the Aroostook Band is developing a brook trout educational program for Tribal youth and other local youth. The purpose of the educational program will be to raise public awareness with regard to the importance of brook trout and the current ecological and human stressors that are affecting wild brook trout populations.

The next steps for the Aroostook Band will be harvesting and selling fish to the public. The money made on fish will help sustain the cost of the hatchery. Not only does the fish hatchery benefit the Tribe, it supports local fish populations by reducing fishing pressure on the native trout. (At this time, fish grown at the hatchery are not introduced into native watercourses or bodies of water.) The Aroostook Band is excited for the opportunity to protect wild brook trout populations while producing a healthy source of fresh fish for the community. The Tribe plans to hold an open house for the fish hatchery in the near future.

A girl holds a fishing pole and the fish she caught.

Hatcheries help neighbors “fish on!”

This week is National Fishing and Boating Week. To celebrate, today we look at how our national fish hatcheries reach out to their neighbors to share their love of the great sport of fishing.first_bite_thumbnail

National fish hatcheries in the northeast region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service help raise fish for large-scale aquatic restoration. They also help raise awareness of fish through local fishing derbies and events.

A child in a red shirt and dark curly hair and skin holds a fish.

Success at the May 25, 2013 derby at White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery. Credit: Rachel Mair/USFWS

Many of the derbies take place at the hatcheries themselves. For example, the Northeast Fishery Center in Lamar, Pennsylvania scheduled nine catch and release fishing events for youth, special needs youth and adults in long term care facilities in 2013.  “We have an ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessible pond that is very popular for these events,” says Steve Davis, a fish culture and facilities maintenance worker at the center.

A man in a wheelchair displays a fish he caught

The fishing event at the Northeast Fishery Center is popular with disabled fishers. Credit: USFWS

Mickey Novak, hatchery manager for Richard Cronin National Salmon Station, hosts several fishing events for veterans at his facility in Sunderland, Massachusetts. A veteran of the Vietnam war, Novak and a team of volunteers, many of them veterans themselves, help those who have served our country spend an enjoyable day angling. “It’s vets helping vets,” says Novak.

Veterans enjoy a fine fall day of fishing at Richard Cronin Salmon Station in 2012. Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

Veterans enjoy a fine fall day of fishing at Richard Cronin Salmon Station in 2012. Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

Volunteers are key to the success of derbies at other hatcheries, too. The White Sulphur Springs Rotarians and the Friends of White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery support an annual derby that is a featured event of the Dandelion Festival in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. “This year we had 182 children attend, ages 3-13,” said acting project leader Keith McGilvray.

a young boy and and older girl show their fish

Kids ages 3 to 13 enjoyed fishing at White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery. Credit: Rachel Mair/USFWS

Berkshire National Fish Hatchery in Hartsville (New Marlborough), Massachusetts annually cohosts six fishing events for kids April through September with the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation friends group. The Foundation also has a longstanding summertime program where any child 14 and under accompanied by an adult can check in at the office, receive a pass and fish the hatchery’s stocked lower pond.

A girl holds a fishing pole and the fish she caught.

All smiles at the White Sulphur Springs derby. Credit: Rachel Mair/USFWS.

Berkshire also provided fish for 21 public fishing events throughout Western Massachusetts and Connecticut in 2013, including a fishing day at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Regional Office in Hadley, Massachusetts. “Over 7,000 brook trout and rainbow trout were provided for public fishing events so far in 2013,” said hatchery manager Henry Bouchard   In addition, 2,500 surplus brook trout were donated to Massachusetts public fishing waters last fall.  These fish were released into the Green, Williams and Konkapot Rivers & Lakes Garfield and Buel all located in Berkshire County.”

Tracy Copeland of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mentors a young fisherman. Credit: USFWS

Tracy Copeland of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mentors a young fisherman at the Northeast Regional Office event. Credit: USFWS

Bouchard also manages the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Fish Hatchery in North Chittenden, Vermont, which in 2013 provided fish for three fishing derbies in Vermont attended by 450 participants, including Teenies Derby in Chittenden.

See a video of Teenies fishing derby!

The hatchery provided 750 brook trout and a few large landlocked salmon at the two kids’ events and one event for seniors and people with disabilities.   Staff helped participants bait hooks and land fish and set up a large display with brochures, handouts and an aquarium for a close-up view of the trout and salmon. “It’s really a team effort,” said Bouchard.

See more photo of our fishing derbies!
Northeast Fishery Center
Richard Cronin Salmon Station
2013 Northeast Regional Office
2012 Richard Cronin Salmon Station Youth Derby
2011 Northeast Regional Office
2010 Northeast Regional Office