Fish & Habitats: Conservation and Protection



Water view Conserving wild native species and their habitats is fundamental to provincial fisheries management in British Columbia. The province possesses a diversity of native species and populations, some considered at risk due to declining numbers or limited distribution. Protecting, maintaining, and restoring or rehabilitating fish and their habitat are essential to the maintenance of functioning aquatic ecosystems. The maintenance of natural biodiversity is critical to the health of the environment and has significant implications to economics, culture and the overall functioning of human society. From the biological perspective, diversity exists at three major levels: (1) genetic — the variation between individuals within and among populations of the same species; (2) species — the variety of different species; (3) ecosystem — the array of different communities and the different ways they function. Healthy ecosystems ensure that the benefits derived from the fish resource are sustainable for generations to come.

Definitions:

Water viewBiodiversity is the full variety of living organisms and biophysical processes that sustain life at three levels: genes, species and ecosystems.

Conservation is the protection, maintenance, restoration and rehabilitation of native species and their habitat to ensure ecosystem sustainability and biodiversity.

Ecosystem is a functional unit of living organisms along with the non-living physical and chemical factors of their environment, linked together through nutrient cycling and energy flow. An ecosystem can vary in size, but it always functions as a whole unit, for example a lake ecosystem, wetland or stream ecosystem.

Exotic (or non-indigenous) species do not naturally occur in a defined geographic area, such as a watershed or waterbody.

Fisheries management is the process of sustaining, using and understanding fish and fish habitat through inventory, research, regulation, allocation, restoration, rehabilitation, protection and enforcement.

Native species are populations that are known to have existed at a site prior to the influence of humans.

Population is a discrete, although not necessarily geographically isolated, group of interbreeding individuals, sometimes referred to as a stock, whose size is generally measured in numbers of individuals.

Rehabilitation means to return a degraded ecosystem or population to an undegraded condition, which may not be the same as the original condition.

Restoration means to return a degraded or altered ecosystem or population to an undegraded condition.

Wild species complete their life cycle without direct assistance from people.

Mountain view All levels of government are committed to the conservation and protection of our precious fisheries resources. Many communities and individuals around the province are contributing to the health of our fish and their habitats through involvement with restoration and stewardship programs. For an updated list of projects in your region, consult the Fisheries Project Registry.

Fish protection is further supported through implementation of the Fish Protection Act and the Forest Practices Code. Ministry of Environment also has an active genetics program to assess the state of the stocks around the province.