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[C] Conservation | Freshwater



Nature in the Balance

Freshwater species and their habitats are vital to the Garden State’s entire ecosystem. Many stressors found in a densely populated state put them at risk, including habitat degradation, invasive species, disease, and climate change. New Jersey is ready to face these important challenges by taking proactive measures to protect and restore our fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of all New Jerseyans.


What Freshwater Species are served by Conservation Efforts?

New Jersey’s freshwater residents include our high-profile brook trout, native and imperiled fish; reptiles and amphibians in and around our waters; mussels, neighboring odonates and seasonal anadromous species. All are served either directly or indirectly by Fish and Wildlife’s conservation efforts.


Freshwater conservation efforts focus on species protection; habitat restoration and enhancement; and related monitoring programs aimed at addressing immediate threats.


frequently asked questions

There are a multitude of ways to get involved with freshwater conservation, both financially and voluntarily. Click here to learn more. Signing up for the Freshwater Fishing e-mail list by clicking here is another way to stay up to date on potential volunteer opportunities.
All native fish are wild, but not all wild fish are native. The difference between native and wild mostly has to do with historical presence.

A wild fish is considered any species of fish that naturally reproduces in New Jersey’s waters. Many species of wild fish have been introduced to New Jersey through recreational stockings in the past, but reproduced and created self-sustaining populations within the state. Species such as Largemouth Bass and Brown Trout are examples of wild fish species.

A native fish not only reproduces naturally in New Jersey’s waters, but has also been historically found in New Jersey prior to/without human intervention. Fish species such as American Shad and Brook Trout are examples of native fish.
Conservation work conducted by Fish and Wildlife is funded through a multitude of sources. These include, but are not limited to: fishing and hunting license sales, federal or nonprofit grants, and environmental reparation funds. Click here to learn more.
Fish kills can occur for a multitude of reasons and are not always related to pollution. In fact, some fish kills can occur entirely due to natural causes. For example, during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, many coastal freshwater ponds were inundated with saltwater. This increase in salinity caused multiple fish kills. Rapid oxygen depletion (often related to algal blooms) in a pond can also often lead to fish kills and are not directly linked to pollution.
High stream flows alone generally do not affect fish populations, as wild fish have adapted to be able to find places to hide and wait for stream flows to reduce. However, increasing urbanization and impervious cover can be associated with a decrease in sensitive fish species, such as Brook Trout. The loss of sensitive species and shifts in fish populations are more often related to changes in factors such as temperature regimes and sedimentation. Changes in these factors, along with an increase in the frequency and severity of high flow, can often be witnessed as impervious cover increases within a watershed. Since high flows are much more visible than the aforementioned factors, flows are often blamed for the changes in fish populations.
NJDEP Fish and Wildlife stocks lakes and ponds across the state primarily for recreational purposes. Many of the species raised and stocked are non-native gamefish species. Therefore, Fish and Wildlife does not stock any waterbodies that have been found to have entirely native fish species present in order to protect the potentially fragile ecosystem that is already present. In addition, Fish and Wildlife will only stock waterbodies that are open to the general public and when data collected suggests that stocking would be beneficial to the existing resource.
If you find or catch a fish with an abnormality/lesion, please keep the fish and report it to our fish pathologist at (908) 637-4173 ext. 120 or to any of the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries offices at (908) 236-2118 for north Jersey, (609) 259-6964 for central Jersey and (856) 629-4950 for south Jersey.


Fish and Wildlife is responsible for the propagation, protection, and management of the state’s freshwater resources. Staff conduct annual surveys, classify the state’s waterways, provide technical input on a variety of watershed and habitat-based issues, facilitate habitat restoration projects, serve as a liaison to a variety of conservation groups, and provide information to the public in a variety of forums concerning the management of New Jersey’s freshwater resources. Recreational opportunities are created or enhanced by rearing and distributing several million fish annually.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625
Last Update: June 23rd, 2022