The status of coldwater fishery management in the United States: An overview of state programs

John Epifanio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In 1996, fishery administrators from every U.S. state were surveyed about an array of coldwater management topics ranging from the composition of coldwater fishery resources, to threats facing resources, to expertise and strategies employed by the agency. Administrators in 49 states returned completed surveys and provided information on the general challenges facing coldwater fishery resources and the conditions under which these resources are managed. For example, 47 states managed coldwater fisheries. Of these, 38 cited habitat-related problems as the most commonly identified obstacles to maintaining self-sustaining trout or salmon populations. Yet in spite of this observation, funding for aquatic habitat programs through fishery management agencies was generally but a fraction of their budgets. In contrast, the states cumulatively operated 369 coldwater hatcheries, which consumed sizable portions of their annual budgets, and licensed an additional 1,200 private coldwater facilities nationwide. Twelve states had assessed the environmental impacts and 11 states the economic impacts of their facilities. In terms of resource planning, 25 states managed coldwater resources under the umbrella of a strategic plan, and 10 managed on an ecosystem-or watershed-based approach. Ultimately, these and other facts suggest a misalignment between the problems facing many coldwater fisheries and management programs in use by some state agencies to counter these problems. This disconnect is likely due to a mix of our profession's institutional history, the way agencies are funded, and public expectation; therefore, overcoming this disconnect will require an objective presentation of facts and open dialogue among professionals and stakeholders regarding management goals and the tools used to reach these goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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