American-Made Challenges

Fish Protection

Fish Protection

Catalyzing new solutions, designs, and strategies to prevent fish from swimming into water infrastructure.
$700,000 in total prizes

Challenge Overview

Fish Protection Prize

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

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.




The prize consists of three stages that provide the structure and resources needed to move methods for protecting fish from water diversions and intakes from initial concept, to technical design, to prototyping, to field-tested systems.  It will conclude with the PITCH CONTEST Stage, taking place between August 30 and September 1 at the 150th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Columbus, Ohio.

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. 



This prize will distribute a total of $700,000 of combined cash prizes and voucher support.



The purpose of this prize is to incentivize the development of innovative solutions to advance fish exclusion technology. 

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 - Sensory deterrent systems are used to prevent the upstream movement of fish. Technologies that make up this innovation category include but are not limited to: Acoustic Air Bubble Curtains, Electrical Barrier, Underwater Sound, and Underwater Strobe Lights.
  2. Turbulence and velocity-based deterrents – Influencing and controlling turbulence and velocity in river channel design can be employed to deter fish from diversions, pipes, and intakes.
  3. Combination stimulus barriers – This innovation category can utilize multiple stimulus or sensory deterrents, or a combination of physical and non-physical barriers to avert fish from diversions, pipes, and intakes.
  4. Diversion or intake layouts/geometry – This category addresses the design, planning, and implementation of diversions and intakes for the purpose of fish exclusion.
  5. Fish screen materials or coatings - Structures or surface coatings meant to prevent fish from entering hydroelectric dams, aqueducts, river diversions, or other anthropogenic structures, are developed with the intent to supply water free of debris to power plants and other facilities without harming aquatic life.
  6. Fish screen cleaning methods – This innovation category can include various fish screen cleaning technology including but not limited to air burst, water jet, and brush systems.

Please review the official rules for the application process and instructions for competing. 


Updates 4

Challenge Updates

COVID-19 Update for the Fish Protection Prize

March 23, 2020, 12:10 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

At EERE, we understand that due to the coronavirus outbreak, many of us have had to make adjustments to our business operations and practices in order to safeguard the health and safety of our communities. Due to the extraordinary circumstances in which we now find ourselves, EERE is reevaluating prize timelines. Further information coming soon.

All questions and answers related to this prize will be posted on the HeroX page at:

Thank you, competitors, for your continued efforts during this uncertain time. 

We hope that you and your loved ones are well and we look forward to hearing from you.

Upcoming Rules Webinar

March 17, 2020, 11:19 a.m. PDT by Jenny Wiegele

Hi Innovators,

Are you looking for insights on how to put together a strong application?

We’re hosting a webinar March 30 at 1 pm MT to give context for the prize, outline some best practices for applying, and answer your questions about the rules.

Register today:

-The Fish Protection Prize Team

Template Voucher Agreement added to Resources

Feb. 14, 2020, 2:30 p.m. PST by Tessa Greco

Fish Protection Prize Innovators,

We have uploaded a new document for your review in the "Resources" tab of HeroX. If you plan on submitting an application (and if you plan to be a finalist) please look through the Finalist Voucher Agreement Template for Fish Protection Prize.

This document is the template contractual agreement that all finalists will need to enter into in order to utilize the voucher support provided by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in advance of the final Pitch Contest. 

As always, reach out to with any questions.

Additional Information Uploaded to Resources

Feb. 10, 2020, 4:06 a.m. PST by Tessa Greco

If you need some help getting started, please check out our "Additional Information for the Fish Protection Prize" document in the Resources tab of the Fish Protection Prize HeroX site.


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