The Fisheries Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has played a vital role in conserving and managing fish and other aquatic resources since 1871. Today, the Fisheries Program is a critical partner with States, Tribes, other governments, other Service programs, private organizations, public institutions, and interested citizens in a larger effort to conserve these important resources. The Nation's fish and other aquatic resources are among the richest and most diverse in the world. These resources have helped support the Nation's growth by providing ermous ecological, social and ecomic benefits. Despite efforts by the Service and others to conserve aquatic resources, a growing number are declining at alarming rates. Loss of habitat and invasive species are the two most significant threats to the diversity of aquatic systems. One-third of the Nation's freshwater fish species are threatened or endangered, 72 percent of freshwater mussels are imperiled, and the number of threatened and endangered species has tripled in the last 20 years. Clearly, there is increasing urgency to identify and implement actions that will reverse these alarming trends before it is too late. In order to better conserve and manage fish and other aquatic resources in the face of increasing threats, the Service worked with partners to refocus its Fisheries Program and develop a vision. The vision of the Service and its Fisheries Program is working with partners to restore and maintain fish and other aquatic resources at self-sustaining levels and to support Federal mitigation programs for the benefit of the American public. To achieve this vision, the Fisheries Program will work with its partners to: Protect the health of aquatic habitats, Restore fish and other aquatic resources, and Provide opportunities to enjoy the benefits of healthy aquatic resources. In July, 2001, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council (SFBPC) was charged by the Service to convene a steering committee representing perspectives from a broad array of stakeholders in fish and aquatic resource conservation to work with the Fisheries Program during the development of a new blueprint for the future. This provided partners with a unique opportunity to be engaged before the strategic vision was drafted. It was also unique because the Fisheries Steering Committee included representatives from the Service, along with partners and stakeholders. In January, 2002, the SFBPC Fisheries Steering Committee provided the Service with a set of consensus recommendations on the Fisheries Program's role in the partnership effort to conserve the Nation's fish and other aquatic resources. This report, entitled A Partnership Agenda for Fisheries Conservation, along with the earlier SFBPC hatchery report, Saving a System in Peril, were keystone elements in developing the Fisheries Program's strategic vision. Using these two reports and working collaboratively with partners, the Service has better defined its role in conserving and managing aquatic resources across the country. This strategic vision discusses where the Fisheries Program is today, where it needs to go in the future, and why it is important to get there. To move forward and be successful in this role, the Fisheries Program must be solidly supported, backed by sound science, and grounded in dynamic partnerships.
Fish And Wildlife Service, U S Department of the Interior