About the Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission

A Brief History of the origin of the Commission: 

The Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission (SWTFC) was formed in April 2002 in response to the closure of the Mescalero National Fish Hatchery (NFH) and the chronic erosion of funding and maintenance at the Alchesay and Williams Creek NFH complex located on the White Mountain Apache tribal lands in Arizona.  Unlike other fisheries commissions focused on fulfillment of federal treaty obligations, such as the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Commission, the SWTFC is a coalition of tribes in the southwest which seeks to assist tribal fisheries programs by providing technical skills and support needed to move good ideas and projects from the conceptual phase to reality.

Fishery resources are culturally and economically important to Southwestern Tribes.  Although diverse in terms of their actual resources and needs, all SWTFC member Tribes share a common goal of moving toward self-determination and self-sufficiency through development or enhancement of sustainable recreational and native fisheries. Some fisheries programs are well developed while others need support or technical resources to realize their potential.  Tribes often have a specific vision of their fisheries management but need additional support and technical assistance to achieve that vision.  All are committed to responsible and professional stewardship of these resources.

With a collective desire to succeed as a united coalition, the SWTFC has seized on opportunities, overcome challenges, and built trust among its member Tribes, as well as with several Federal, State, and non-governmental organizations.  In the nearly fifteen years since its inception, the organization has progressed from relative anonymity to a recognized and respected voice for tribal fishery and natural resource issues facing southwestern tribes.



Since its inception, the mission of the SWTFC has been to advance tribal self-determination and tribal stewardship of fisheries resources through the professional development and support of tribal resource management programs.

Our vision is to provide the technical skills and support needed to move individual tribal fisheries programs and projects from the conceptual phase to reality by assisting tribes with creating and facilitating inter-governmental and non-governmental partnerships, providing advocacy needed to obtain funding and support, and providing tangible services in the form of technical assistance and equipment.


Message from the Chairman: 2019 

Going from one of the driest years on record to one of the wettest has been an emotional roller coaster of sorts. If these two years are any indication of things to come, I’m unsure of how best to proceed. To go from deep despair to an almost unfair bounty over such a short period of time could leave a fisheries biologist blushing. Weather woes and wins aside a new spring season is my favorite time of the year. It means meeting season is over, and field activities can begin in earnest.

The Commission continues to fire on all cylinders, with this newsletter serving as our seasonal rallying call for the membership to participate and engage in another action-packed year. This year with the Commission and its many State and Federal partners we will be holding an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Workshop. The workshop is meant to address ever growing international concerns over AIS and the damages they can inflict on aquatic and general fisheries resources. The detrimental changes can be of great concern to small tribal fisheries which generate not only recreational benefits, but in many cases significant economic benefits to their constituencies. Tribal fisheries programs often lack the funding, or manpower to initiate the same level of response as our State or Federal counterparts. Therefore, this free workshop is meant to get regional tribal departments up to speed on AIS and their identification, implications, and proactive prevention techniques.

Of course, one would be remiss to not occasionally visit or reflect on our short comings. This, of course, is not to bog ourselves down in regret or doubt, but rather to learn and grow from all the opportunities given to us. The good and the bad. This year my goal is to ride the wave of previous successes as far as they will carry us, and when that is no longer providing enough forward progress, generate a new wave. I would like to invite you all the come along for the journey, traveling alone is no good at all. After all the Commission was formed so tribal fisheries programs, together, could expand, learn, and prosper. Not only for our individual memberships, but as a whole southwestern fisheries ecosystem.

I hope to see many of you throughout this year at a SWTFC workshop, meeting, or even better in the field conducting fish work!


Jacob A. Mazzone