Celebrating 150 Years of Fisheries Management
Greetings, anglers! With 12,000 miles of rivers and streams and 975 lakes and ponds in New Hampshire, you are never far from great fishing. It’s worth reflecting that the healthy fisheries we enjoy today are here thanks to careful management that dates back to the watershed year of 1865.
By the mid-1800s, New Hampshire’s fish populations were rapidly being depleted. Recognizing this problem, on June 30, 1865, the State Legislature established the Commission on Fisheries to “consider the subject of the restoration of sea fish” and “the introduction of new varieties of fresh water fish” to the Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers.
The new Commission understood that fish were an important economic asset. Even then, they recognized that sufficiently stocked waterways benefited people and communities alike, from serving as a source of food to providing a boost to the economy as travelers spent money in local businesses as they fished New Hampshire’s waters.
In addition to restoring sea-run fish, the Fisheries Commission was given the task of introducing new types of freshwater fish to the state. With this in mind, in 1877, the Fisheries Commission appealed to the State Legislature for a $500 appropriation to erect a “hatching house” to propagate fish. That year, the first state fish hatchery was established at Livermore Falls in Holderness.
Funding was scarce for fisheries management in the early days. Hunters, who had been buying licenses since 1903, called for anglers to pay their fair share, and the Fishing License Law passed in 1917.
A new era for fisheries management was ushered in with the Passage of the Sport Fish Restoration Act in 1950. Thanks to this far-sighted legislation, Federal funds from an excise tax on angling equipment and motorboat fuels provided a dedicated source of revenue for fisheries research, habitat restoration, recreational boating access, construction of fish hatcheries and aquatic education. The years that followed saw gradual, but important, changes to the hatchery system, along with the introduction of science-based management.
Today, we stock nearly a million trout for your angling enjoyment, and fisheries biologists can track the travels of fish using remote transmitters!
What will the future look like for New Hampshire’s fish and wildlife? It is up to the future generation of conservationists and the public, cooperatively, to continue this legacy through an independent, well-funded Fish and Game Department.
N.H. Fish and Game Department
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.