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World Fish Migration Day

May 20, 2024

Join us in celebrating World Fish Migration Day! Learn more about how NOAA helps migratory fish and communities by opening or improving access to river and stream habitat.

A salmon leaping upstream over fast-moving whitewater and dark gray rocks Atlantic salmon leaps upstream. Credit: Shutterstock

May 25, 2024 is World Fish Migration Day—a global celebration to raise awareness of the importance of free-flowing rivers and migratory fish. Take a closer look at how NOAA works to address barriers to fish migration and open their passageways.

Fish Migration Features

Podcast: Dam Removals Boost Atlantic Salmon Populations in Maine

Habitat restoration efforts on the Penobscot River in Maine will help Atlantic salmon population recover and support ancestral traditions of the Penobscot Nation.

Listen to the podcast

A fish leaping above fast-moving water
Atlantic salmon. Credit: National Park Service.

NOAA Recommends $240 Million in Fish Passage Funding under Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act

Forty-six projects will reopen migratory pathways, restore access to healthy habitat for fish, and build tribal capacity to develop and implement fish passage projects.

Learn more about NOAA's fish passage funding recommendations

A coho salmon swims up the Sol Duc river on the Olympic Peninsula.
A coho salmon swims up the Sol Duc river on the Olympic Peninsula. Credit: Adobe Stock.

Supporting the Long-Term Survival of Copper River Salmon and Alaska Native Traditions

With $4.3 million in NOAA funds, the Copper River Watershed Project and The Eyak Corporation will remove fish passage barriers, opening more streams for salmon spawning and subsistence fishing.

Read about the project

A person in a beanie and plastic apron holds a large shiny silver fish on a rocky bank with a wide river behind her.
Eyak Tribal Member Tiffany Beedle holding a 35-pound King (Chinook) salmon she processed for the Native Village of Eyak Subsistence program. Credit: Tiffany Beedle

Celebrating a NOAA Champion for Migratory Fish

NOAA Marine Habitat Resource Specialist Eric Hutchins stands out for his nearly 40 years of service and tireless efforts to restore migratory fish populations in New England.

Learn about Eric's work restoring fish passage in New England

Eric catches an American eel for an educational event about migratory fish. (Photo: Samuel Coulbourn)
Eric catches an American eel for an educational event about migratory fish. (Photo: Samuel Coulbourn)

New Fish Passage Facility Restores Access to 1,000 Miles of Habitat in North Carolina

Updates at the Blewett Falls Hydroelectric Project now allow American eel and other fish to access previously blocked upstream riverine habitat.

Learn more about fish passage at the Blewett Falls Hydroelectric Project 

Skinny dark-colored eels in a white collection tank
Migrating American eel being weighed after using the Blewett Falls Dam eelway. These juveniles (called elvers) used the newly constructed eelway to move upstream and will be passed into habitat above the dam where they will continue to grow. Credit: Justin Dycus/Duke Energy

Cold Water Connection Campaign Reopens Rivers for Olympic Peninsula Salmon and Steelhead

With $19 million in NOAA funds, nonprofit and tribal partners plan to remove 17 barriers blocking fish passage on critical spawning rivers originating in Olympic National Park, Washington.

Learn more about the Cold Water Connection Campaign 

Two salmon with green backs and pink bellies leap upstream in turbulent whitewater
Washington coast coho salmon migration. Credit: Paul Jeffrey/Wild Salmon Center

National Fish Habitat Partnership’s 2023 Waters to Watch Projects Feature Coastal Habitats

Five of the National Fish Habitat Partnership's 2023 Waters to Watch projects take place in coastal, estuarine, and marine habitats where NOAA works—and many include efforts to improve fish passage.

Learn more about the 2023 Waters to Watch projects 

Two people hold either end of a net in a clear rocky stream
Fisheries surveys in the Mid-Klamath watershed help to answer questions around fish movement and habitat use to inform restoration efforts. Credit: Mid Klamath Watershed Council.

Ipswich and Parker River Dam Removals in Massachusetts to Restore Fish and Protect Communities

With $2.5 million in funding through NOAA, the Ipswich River Watershed Association and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries will address dams blocking fish passage and posing flood risks to towns.

Learn more about dam removals on the Ipswich and Parker Rivers

Three people standing on the side of a dam. The person in the middle points downward to water moving over the dam.
Field trip group visiting the Ipswich Mills Dam. Credit: Marilyn Humphries, courtesy of Ipswich River Watershed Association

Long-Term Monitoring Highlights Continued Recovery of Roanoke River Fish and Mussel Populations

Eighteen years after restoring flow to an important section of the Roanoke River, populations of key species—including the American eel and beneficial freshwater mussels—are growing.

Learn more about improving fish passage on the Roanoke River

Young American eels in a handheld net suspended over a holding tank. There are about 50 eels, and each one is between 100 and 200 millimeters in length. Credit: Dominion Energy
American eels captured in the bypassed reach downstream of Roanoke Rapids Dam. Almost all of the migrating eels at the dam first pass through the bypassed reach, which has become an important migration corridor since flow was restored to this area. Credit: Dominion Energy

Restoring Atlantic Salmon and Reviving Tribal Connections in the Penobscot River Watershed

NOAA and partners aim to connect Atlantic salmon to cold water spawning grounds and revive the once-vital human connections to the river.

Learn more about fish passage restoration on the Penobscot River

Three salmon with spots on their backs swim over rocks underwater.
Atlantic salmon. Credit: Atlantic Salmon Federation

Fish Passage Inspired by Nature on the Cape Fear River, North Carolina

To improve fish passage, Cape Fear River Watch and partners have made a series of upgrades to a fishway originally designed to mimic natural river habitat.

Learn more about improving fish passage on the Cape Fear River

Aerial view of before and after photo of the original nature-like fishway at Cape Fear Lock and Dam Number 1 (2013) and modified nature-like fishway. (2021)
Aerial view of the original nature-like fishway at Cape Fear Lock and Dam Number 1 in 2013, and the modified nature-like fishway in 2021. The red lines indicate the rock arches constructed below the crest of the dam structure. The red circles indicate the staggered pools which form three pathways through the fishway. Credit: U.S. Army Corps and Cape Fear River Watch.

Reopening Rivers for Migratory Fish

Every year, millions of fish migrate to their native habitats to reproduce. They are often blocked from completing their journey. When fish can’t reach their habitat, their populations can’t grow.

Learn how we work to reopen rivers for migratory fish

An aerial view of a fish ladder
Fish ladder at Weldon Dam on the Penobscot River in Maine

Barriers to Fish Migration

One reason fish populations struggle is that barriers prevent them from reaching the upstream habitat where they breed and grow.

Learn why fish migration is important and what we’re doing to help

Water flows over an aging dam along a river with heavily vegetated banks
Before removal, the Tack Factory Dam in Norwell, MA

Improving Fish Migration at Hydropower Dams

When barriers such as hydropower dams block fish from migrating, their populations decline. Through its authorities under the Federal Power Act, NOAA Fisheries improves habitat by addressing fish passage at non-federal hydropower dams. These efforts help recover threatened and endangered migratory fish and support the sustainability of economically important commercial and recreational fisheries.

Learn more about our work to improve fish passage at non-federal hydropower dams

Water flows over a winding concrete structure on the side of a large dam
John Day Dam fishway, located along Columbia River near the city of Rufus, Oregon.

Successful Fish Passage Efforts Across the Nation

Through multiple programs and partnerships, NOAA Fisheries is leading the charge to open our nation’s rivers and streams by providing fish passage solutions.

Learn more about the benefits of opening rivers for fish and communities across the nation

A wide net extending from a large metal structure on the surface of a lake.
A floating surface collector, used to collect juvenile fish around dams in Baker Lake, Washington. After collection, the fish are transported around the dams, which would otherwise block their passage.


The Value of Opening Rivers for Fish

Millions of fish are blocked from reaching their native habitat to reproduce each year. These fish are crucial to the economy and communities across the nation. NOAA helps migratory fish and communities by opening river and stream habitat.

Learn more about the value of opening rivers for fish

An infographic showing the importance of unblocking rivers to allow for fish passage


Open Rivers, Abundant Fish

This video explores the journeys of migratory fish from ocean to freshwater streams, which are often blocked by barriers like dams. NOAA is helping to remove these barriers and open passage upstream, so that fish can reach their spawning  grounds.