Tag Archives: Nashua National Fish Hatchery

From Wells to Watersheds: the Land Between Two Rivers

Near the Nashua River, a tributary to the Merrimack River, and practically in the middle of of Nashua, New Hampshire sits the Nashua National Fish Hatchery where American shad and Atlantic salmon are raised to restore valuable Atlantic coast fisheries. Katie Marony, a biologist at the Hatchery, is a big fan of Atlantic salmon. She also enjoys working with young people, teaching about fish ecology and inspiring a new generation of biologists. Today Katie shares a new program offered at the Hatchery for 7th graders.

Kate Marony with a BIG Atlantic salmon from the Nashua National Fish Hatchery

Besides growing Atlantic salmon and American shad to restore important Atlantic coast recreational and commercial fisheries, the Nashua National Fish Hatchery (NNFH) has something else to be proud of – we are the second national fish hatchery in the nation to be awarded a “Hands on the Land” grant through the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The NNFH collaborated with the Amoskeag Fishways Partnership and the Elm Street Middle School to develop and implement a STEM-based educational program for 400 7th grade students in the heart of Nashua, NH. The Elm Street Middle School serves over 1000 students from diverse backgrounds, including many recent immigrants to the U.S. This partnership is integrating in-class lessons for the state’s 7th grade life science curriculum with hands-on, outdoor learning experiences.

The program includes multiple classroom sessions with the experienced staff of Amoskeag Fishways, and culminates in a field trip to the hatchery. And thanks to the generosity of NEEF/EPA, the programs are offered at no cost to the school.

This past May, educators from the Amoskeag Fishways Visitor Center taught three, in-class lessons: 1) watersheds and how water moves through groundwater and surface waters; 2) water chemistry and how to test water, and importance of water quality to ecosystems and people; and 3) fish anatomy and physiology, and habitat requirements. Following the in-class sessions, we transported students to the hatchery for a tour.

The purpose of the tour was two-fold: to introduce students to accessible urban green spaces close to their homes, and to teach them about water use, water treatment, fish production, and conservation efforts by the hatchery to restore our fisheries. “I learned so much about fish and the differences of each fish age.” said Adrianna R. “Your fish were so cute. I didn’t even know there were fish that big in the world.” said Jean Marie S.

Indeed, students were very engaged and surprised by the cool science behind fish culture and protecting our watersheds. The hatchery tours followed the path that the water takes at our facility. “I thought it was so cool that we got to learn about salmon and their life cycle. It was interesting getting to see how the water gets filtered.” said another 7th grader. We showed them our wells, pumps, degassing building, and our water discharge area. One student exclaimed “It was amazing to see all of the fish inside the tents! I hope I get to go again! I never knew you had to degas the water. The lessons before the field trip were really helpful to learn more about the fish hatchery!”

Our post-program evaluation indicated that students retained a majority of the information taught throughout the sessions, as well as an increased desire to visit our facility again. We plan to further develop our program and offer it to the Elm Street Middle School in the future. Come visit us at the Nashua National Fish Hatchery; we are happy to work with your youth group and offer a tour.

A man and two women stand in a river with a hose shooting tiny fish into the water

Joining forces in the Charles River to bring back shad fishery

July 18, 2013: Yesterday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state of Massachusetts, and the Charles River Watershed Association came together to release young American shad fish into the Charles River. On hand from the Service were Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber, Deputy Assistant Regional Director for Fisheries Bill Archambault and Northeast Supervisory Fish Biologist Joe McKeon of the  Eastern New England Fishery Resources Complex.

A man and two women stand in a river with a hose shooting tiny fish into the water

Wendi Weber (center) joins partners Bob Zimmerman and Mary Griffin in releasing shad into the Charles River. Copyright: Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe

Watch video of event!

“Go forth and propagate!”  proclaimed Mary Griffin, commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, as quoted in a Boston Globe article about the stocking event. Griffin and Bob Zimmerman of the Charles River Watershed Association stood in the water shoulder-to-shoulder with Wendi Weber, connected by a large hose they grasped in their hands. The hose delivered baby shad from a North Atlleboro National Fish Hatchery truck to their new home in the Charles River.

Once abundant in rivers such as the Charles, American shad numbers have decreased in the last century due to dams, pollution and overfishing. Improvements in water quality, fish passage and fishing regulations make restoring shad populations possible in the Charles.

The restoration project is a long-term collaborative effort between Massachusetts and the Service’s Eastern New England Fishery Complex. Goals are to return a viable population of shad to the river and create a local sport fishery.

“This project is special because the Charles is such an important river to the people in Boston,” said Weber. “We are pleased to work with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Charles River Watershed Association and others to enhance American shad populations and improve habitat for other migratory fish.”

Read  more from the Boston Globe story about the stocking or a press release.

Two fisheries biologist stand next to a portable tank. One is measuring an adult fish while the other notes data on a clipboard.

Adult shad are collected from the Merrimack River and tank spawned in hatcheries for stocking the Charles and other rivers. Credit:USFWS

Adult shad are collected from the Merrimack River and tank spawned in hatcheries for stocking the Charles and other rivers.

Spawning pool for mature American shad at North Attleboro National Fish Hatchery. Fertilized eggs flow through a drain to a control box (upper right) where they are collected. Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

A man sthands next to a tank the size of a hot tub with egg cylinders hanging around it.

Eggs are placed in cylinders hung around tanks. When the shad larvae hatch in about 4 days, they swim into the tanks through chutes at the top of the cylinders. Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

Thousands of tiny fish swim over and around a screen.

Shad larvae are marked with oxytetracycline and released after a few days, for a turnaround time of about a week from egg to release. These young shad were reared at Nashua National Fish Hatchery. Credit: USFWS