Managing the Impacts of Human Activities on Fish Habitat: The Governance, Practices, and Science

Toward an Ecosystem-Based Approach to Assessing and Managing Impacts on Fish and Fish Habitat

Neil Fisher, Patrice LeBlanc, C. Alwyn Rose, and Barry Sadler


Freshwater and marine fish species and their habitat—those parts of aquatic ecosystems that directly and indirectly provide food, cover, and space essential for fish to live, grow, and reproduce—represent a critical stock of natural capital that plays a vital role in sustaining the health, livelihoods, well-being and prosperity of humans. In many parts of the world, the harvesting of fish through commercial, aboriginal and recreational fisheries and through aquaculture operations provides an important source of food, jobs, income and enjoyment and represents a significant component of the economy. Fish species and fish habitat are also primary features of the structure, function, biodiversity, integrity, and productivity of aquatic ecosystems and powerful symbols and indicators of the health and quality of freshwater and marine environments. Yet nearly everywhere, fish species and their habitat are under varying degrees of threat from the impact of overfishing, pollution, and multiple forms of land and water use from development activities.