Fish Watch Program Description

Integrated into the Forest Service NatureWatch Program
This page is maintained to highlight fish opportunities. Visit NatureWatch to find fish watching opportunities.

Program Description

FishWatch is an aquatic and fisheries focused educational program established to elevate awareness of the importance for fish and clean water; encourage an interest and excitement for fish viewing; provide fish viewing opportunities; and provide opportunities for volunteers and partnerships to play a role in the conservation of our aquatic resources.

Program Goals

To provide aquatic environmental education and interpretation programs and materials to Forest Service employees, schools, and partners.

Program Sponsors and Partners

Every Forest Service dollar invested in cooperative projects in 1995, was matched by $1.50 in partner cash, materials, or skilled labor. Through these cooperative efforts the agency accomplished -- as a percent of their total accomplishment: 44% of the aquatic education presentations and 45% of the multi-media education products produced. Hundreds of partners participate in FishWatch programs.

Target Audience

The target audience are the American public and international travelers of all ages interested in viewing, learning, photographing, and conserving, etc. our precious aquatic resources.

Audience Reached (size, demographics)

Hundreds of activities are held nation-wide including festivals, slide programs, seminars, expositions, classes, snorkeling excursions, multimedia products and more. In 1995 over 2 million days of participation in fish education/viewing activities took place on National Forest System lands.

Program History and Trends

In 1986, the President's Commission on America's Great Outdoors recommended to the President that educators make the environment an integral part of children's basic education. The Commission also recommended that Federal natural resource agencies engage in educational activities to bring school children to the resource. Initiatives such as "Take Pride in America," "Volunteers and Partnerships," and "Excellence in Education" were joined by the Recreational Fishing Executive Order 12962, signed by President Clinton in June, 1995. The Executive Order calls for the Federal agencies to create a National Conservation Plan to promote, among other things, public education and support for aquatic resource conservation, ethics, and safety.

A compelling case can be made to increase emphasis on outreach and education on aquatic resources. Decline in the health of streams and lakes is unparalleled. While 7% of U.S. mammals and birds are extinct or imperiled, about 36% of the fishes, 64% of the crayfishes, and 55% of U.S. freshwater mussels are ranked as extinct or imperiled. During the past decade, there has been a 60% increase in the number of freshwater North American fishes at risk of extinction -- including many with substantial recreational and commercial values.

Major Accomplishments

  • 2.3 million people participated fish viewing/education activities on National Forest system lands last year. 27% of the population enjoys fish viewing.
  • More than 2,200 interactive aquatic education presentations were made during 1995.
  • Fisheries interpretive displays were developed and placed at 73 sites.
  • Nearly 300 multi-media aquatic educational products (e.g., brochures, videos, news articles) were developed for school children and the public.
  • The Wenatchee River Salmon Festival, WA, attracts 13,000 visitors, annually.
  • Each year 120,000 visitors learn about stream ecology through the Kokanee Salmon Education Program at Lake Tahoe, NV.
  • In 1995 Forest Service Congressonal Fisheries budget of 39.51 million resulted in net public recreational fishing benefits of $1.5 billion - a return of over $38 for each tax dollar invested.
  • The Forest Service continues as the leading Federal agency sponsor of National Fishing Week programs. In 1995, the Forest Service hosted over 300 National Fishing Week events that were attended by more than 88,000 children and adults.