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

Canadian Fish Habitat Management: Symptoms and Remedies

Charles K. Minns


Abstract.—Efforts to achieve no net loss of productive capacity (PC) of fish habitat are failing in Canada and elsewhere. These growing losses, particularly in freshwaters, have a central role in ongoing global changes that threaten our future. Canada has a large share of global freshwater resources and hence a greater responsibility to help find solutions. For fish habitat, a preoccupation with habitat suitability, and other indices of that ilk, has diverted attention from self-sustaining fish populations, their productivity, and their fisheries. Symptoms of the problem are reviewed and a remedial approach is offered alongside analogies from comparable conservation and protection arenas such as fisheries, biodiversity, and human society. Many of the symptoms of failure arise from the primary focus of management efforts at the level of individual development activities while the remedies require a focus on more holistic ecosystem-level strategies. Implementation of these remedial approaches is considered.