American-Made Challenges

Fish Protection Prize

Fish and water infrastructure are not natural bedfellows. When fish swim into pipes and dam intakes, they become separated from their natural habitat, which impacts native populations, threatens biodiversity, and impedes recovery efforts for threatened and endangered species.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), in collaboration with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, has launched the Fish Protection Prize, inspiring innovators to compete for $700,000 of combined cash prizes and voucher support to help protect fish from these threats. As many as three winners will be selected.


graphic image of a wave pouring into a clear drinking glass, with the Waves to Water Prize title over a background image of an ocean wave.

The Fish Protection Prize is catalyzing new solutions, designs, and strategies to protect fish from water infrastructure, such as water diversions and pipes, and intakes at hydropower dams. We’re seeking innovative ideas to advance fish exclusion technology.

This prize builds on the initial Fish Exclusion Prize, run by the Bureau of Reclamation, released on March 6, 2019. The winners of the first prize were announced in December 2019. This next three-staged prize invites you to share your innovative approach—along with a design and research plan—for keeping fish away from water diversions and intakes.

Competitors can propose solutions for any fish species found in the United States and that can be applied to river and irrigation canal diversions, unscreened diversion pipes for irrigation or municipal water supplies, cooling water intakes of power plants, or dam intakes. New ideas for addressing fish exclusion or improvements to existing technologies are also welcome.

While the prize is soliciting solutions of all shapes and sizes, organizers identified the following six topic areas as having the greatest potential for successful and cost-effective fish exclusion:

  1. Sensory deterrents (e.g., acoustic and visual)
  2. Turbulence and velocity-based deterrents
  3. Combination stimulus barriers
  4. Diversion or intake layouts/geometry
  5. Fish screen materials or coatings
  6. Fish screen cleaning methods.

All ideas are open at the CONCEPT Stage, from which up to 10 finalists will be selected to enter the INCUBATION Stage. In the INCUBATION Stage, participants will be paired with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and will receive up to 50 hours of technical analysis or other support in advance of the PITCH CONTEST. The PITCH CONTEST will determine which of the finalists will receive the cash and voucher Grand Prizes.


Important Dates


  • CONCEPT Stage Open: January 27, 2020
  • CONCEPT Stage Close: April 24, 2020
  • Anticipated CONCEPT Stage Winner Notification: May 2020
  • Anticipated INCUBATION Stage Open: June 2020
  • Anticipated INCUBATION Submission Close: August 2020
  • Anticipated PITCH CONTEST Stage Open: September 2020
  • Anticipated Winners Announced: September 2020

All dates are subject to change, including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements. Final dates for the opening of the CONCEPT, INCUBATION, and PITCH CONTEST stages will be posted here and on the HeroX site.

Sign up for updates on our HeroX challenge page.


Who can participate?


Calling all innovators, visionaries, and enthusiasts with a passion for preservation! Be part of a trailblazing contest sparking tomorrow’s marine life-energy solutions. Citizens or permanent residents of the United States and private or non-federal public entities, such as townships, tribes, corporations, and other organizations that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States are invited to compete in the American-Made Challenge network. Individuals can compete alone or as a member of a group.

Solutions that help shape the future

Photo of an orange and grey fish by KML from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photography-of-gray-and-orange-fish-3311091/

Are you a thinker, entrepreneur, facility or potential partner? Anyone with an innovative idea can help promote transformation by participating in the American-Made Challenges.


Ready for the Challenge?