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Hydropower and Fish Passage

Salmon and other migrating fish, such as shad and sturgeon, need access to freshwater habitat for spawning and rearing their young. Some fish need to swim thousands of miles through oceans and rivers to reach their destination. Unfortunately, that journey is often blocked by more than two million man-made barriers, such as hydropower dams, that exist in many rivers and streams across the country.

Hydropower energy installations such as dams and tidal and wave energy projects can adversely impact habitat and marine resources. NOAA works with other federal agencies and hydropower plant operators to avoid or reduce the impact to fish and their habitat.

We work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and dam operators to safeguard these species and their habitat by providing protection and fish passage measures in the dam licensing process. Since FERC licenses have a term of 30 to 50 years, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect and improve many miles of habitat degraded by changes in water flow and quality from dam operations.