United States Fish Commission
The United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries (more commonly known as the U.S. Fish Commission) was established by a joint Congressional resolution on February 9, 1871 (16 Stat. 593), as an independent commission with a mandate to investigate the causes for the decrease of commercial fish and aquatic animals in U.S. coastal and inland waters, to recommend remedies to Congress and the states, and to oversee restoration efforts.

Under the leadership of first Spencer F. Baird, then Marshall McDonald, George Brown Goode
George Brown Goode
George Brown Goode , was an ichthyologist, although most of his time was spent as a museum administrator and he was very interested in the history of science, especially the history of the development of science in America. Goode graduated from Wesleyan University and studied at Harvard University...

 and finally George Bowers, the U.S. Fish Commission carried out extensive investigations of the fishes, shellfishes, marine mammals and other life in the rivers, lakes and marine waters of the United States and its territories, corresponded widely with marine researchers around the world, scrutinized the era's fishing technologies, designed, built and operated hatcheries for a wide variety of finfish and shellfish, and oversaw the Alaskan and Aleutian fur seal
Fur seal
Fur seals are any of nine species of pinnipeds in the Otariidae family. One species, the northern fur seal inhabits the North Pacific, while seven species in the Arctocephalus genus are found primarily in the Southern hemisphere...


From 1871 to 1903, the Commission's Annual Report to Congress details its efforts and findings on all of the above.

Two ships were built for the Commission: the 157 feet (47.9 m) schooner rig steamer/floating fish hatchery Fish Hawk, and the 234 feet (71.3 m) brigantine
In sailing, a brigantine or hermaphrodite brig is a vessel with two masts, only the forward of which is square rigged.-Origins of the term:...

-rig steamer USS Albatross (1882)
USS Albatross (1882)
The second USS Albatross, often seen as USFC Albatross in scientific literature citations, was an iron-hulled, twin-screw steamer in the United States Navy and reputedly the first vessel ever built especially for marine research....


From 1881 to 1903, the U.S. Fish Commission published an annual "Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission" summarizing the commission's annual report and correspondence. The bulletins include detailed catch reports from fishermen and commercial fishing port agents around the US and Canada, reports and letters from naturalists and fish researchers around the United States and other countries, and descriptions of the Commission's exploratory cruises and hatchery efforts. In 1884, the Commission published the seminal work, Fisheries and Fisheries Industries of the United States.

In 1902, the U.S. Fish Commission was reorganized as the United States Bureau of Fisheries and was made part of the newly created United States Department of Commerce and Labor
United States Department of Commerce and Labor
The United States Department of Commerce and Labor was a short-lived Cabinet department of the United States government, which was concerned with Business.It was created on February 14, 1903...

, where it became the predecessor of the modern National Marine Fisheries Service
National Marine Fisheries Service
The National Marine Fisheries Service is a United States federal agency. A division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Commerce, NMFS is responsible for the stewardship and management of the nation's living marine resources and their habitat within the...


See also

  • Robert Barnwell Roosevelt originated the bill to create the Commission in the United States House of Representatives
    United States House of Representatives
    The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...



  • Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission. Volume 1 (1881) through Volume 23 (1903). US Government Printing Office.
  • Spencer Baird and Ichthyology at the Smithsonian 1850-1900. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology.
  • Records of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Record Group 22. 1868-1995 (bulk 1870-1972) United States National Archives.

External links

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