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Director’s Message

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Celebrating 150 Years Conserving New Hampshire’s Natural Resources

Welcome to New Hampshire’s coast—where anglers can experience sport fishing at its finest. Our recreational and commercial fisheries are a time-honored tradition and a significant contributor to the state’s economy. All coastal fishermen need to pay close attention this year to new rules for popular saltwater fish, including rainbow smelt, cod, haddock and striped bass, as changes will be in place to provide additional conservation for various species.

Your fish and wildlife agency manages coastal resources in the public trust. Our roots go back to 1865, when, faced with diminishing fish populations, the State Legislature established a 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 recognized the economic importance of coastal resources. Regulations and enforcement gained ground in the 1900s, and our fish and wildlife began to come back. The N.H. Fish and Game Department was formally established in 1935, and a new era for fisheries management arrived with passage of the Sport Fish Restoration Act in 1950.

In 1965, Fish and Game’s Marine Fisheries Division was established to oversee the increasingly complex task of managing coastal resources. Charged with “responsibility for the regulation and promotion of both recreational and commercial marine fishing in the salt waters of the state,” it was funded almost exclusively with state license dollars and federal funds. The first research was on oysters, clams and lobsters.

By the mid-1970s, fish ladders had been constructed at seven dams in coastal rivers to allow diadromous species like river herring and shad to access spawning grounds above the dams and to monitor the populations. Today, some dams are being removed to restore riverine systems.

After a major oil spill in Great Bay in the 1980s, Fish and Game initiated a comprehensive study of the marine resources in Great Bay. In 1989, the Estuary was designated a National Estuarine Research Reserve. Part of the Marine Division, the Reserve coordinates important estuarine research, provides educational programs for the public, and manages thousands of acres of reserve lands.

The Marine Division carries out a number of scientific surveys that help monitor the abundance and health of marine fish, shellfish, lobsters and crabs every year. We also work with other state and federal agencies to develop comprehensive programs to monitor the commercial and recreational harvest of marine resources in N.H. coastal and estuarine waters. Management plans are in place for more than 50 species and marine habitats.

What will the next 150 years bring for New Hampshire’s coastal resources? It is up to all of us to continue this legacy through an independent, well-funded Fish and Game Department.

Glenn Normandeau

Executive Director

N.H. Fish and Game Department

N.H. Fish and Game — Our Mission

As the guardian of the state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department works in partnership with the public to:

  • Conserve, manage and protect these resources and their habitats;
  • Inform and educate the public about these resources; and
  • Provide the public with opportunities to use and appreciate these resources.

The N.H. Fish and Game Department receives Federal Assistance from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and thus prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age and sex, pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or service, please contact or write the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration, 4001 N. Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop: WSFR – 4020, Arlington, Virginia 22203, Attention: Civil Rights Coordinator for Public Programs.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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