Fisheries Management

In conversations with Albertans, Alberta Environment and Parks recognized a growing interest in understanding fisheries management and opportunities to be involved. This interest lead to the development of a Fisheries Action Plan for 2018-19. The plan provides a commitment to work towards the following components:

  • Third-Party Scientific Review
  • Stakeholder Advisory Committee
  • Angler Education
  • Habitat Action Plan
  • Science Seminars
  • Citizen-Assisted Science

Additional updates and information about the plan will be posted further down on this page.

About Alberta Fisheries Management

Alberta’s fisheries management program follows the provincial Fish Conservation and Management Strategy and is built on an objective-based system which runs on scientific data and stakeholder input.

To learn the basics of how fisheries management works in Alberta, see:

Challenges to Alberta's Fisheries

The province has about 800 natural fish-bearing lakes and another 300 lakes that are stocked with trout. In comparison, other provinces, such as Saskatchewan, have tens of thousands of lakes. This means that Saskatchewan has 1.9 fishers for every lake, while Alberta has 375 fishers for every lake.

Additional challenges to fisheries management include:

  • short growing seasons that limit the productivity of fisheries
  • a relative lack of diversity in fish species

This results in sport fish species that are susceptible to being caught. With the provincial population's rapid growth and high demand on fisheries, managing resources is a challenge.

How Alberta's Fisheries are Managed

As the needs of Albertans change, so do management practices. Historically, fisheries have been managed with a focus on commercial fishing and feeding mink farms. This approach resulted in declines in some fish populations. Today, fisheries are managed with the needs of multiple stakeholders in mind, including Indigenous peoples, recreational fishers and even some competitive fishing events.

Fisheries Management Objectives (FMOs)

Fisheries management begins with science-based stock assessments and using standardized protocols for repeatable and comparable results. Based on assessments and consultations with stakeholders, Fish Management Objectives (FMOs) are set based on one of four categories:

  • Ecosystem Conservation
  • Habitat Conservation
  • Indigenous Fishery
  • Recreational Fishery

FMOs are the focal point of the management framework for a fish species.

Frameworks will identify the types of management objectives available to define the types of fisheries desired and link those to the tools that will most effectively help achieve those objectives.

Engaging Albertans

Alberta Environment and Parks is committed to open and honest dialogue on fisheries management through providing science-based information and involving the public in management decisions.

Ways in which Albertans are involved include:

  • participating in online and in-person surveys
  • public meetings and workshops
  • committees
  • other forums

Getting involved in a non-governmental stakeholder group interested in fisheries provides additional opportunities.

Fisheries Stakeholder Advisory Committee

In Spring 2018, as part of the Fisheries Action Plan, Alberta Environment and Parks formed a new fisheries stakeholder advisory committee. This committee, supported by a diverse group of fisheries stakeholders, has been set up to obtain advice and foster collaboration in the conservation and management of Alberta’s recreational fisheries and fish habitats. The commitment of the committee is to respectfully work together, in an open and transparent way, for the collective good of recreational fisheries. The Terms of Reference for the committee will be made available once finalized.

Meeting Updates

The committee met for the second time on July 30, 2018. The focus of this meeting was to receive advice on terms of reference, initiate the process for undertaking an independent review of Alberta’s fisheries management approach and share information about activities being undertaken by the Ministry and other partners to protect and restore aquatic and fish habitat. During this meeting the participants:

  • Provided advice to draft the terms of reference.
  • Confirmed support for the plan for the Third-Party Scientific Review, facilitated by the Office of the Chief Scientist, and recognized opportunities to connect into the process.

    Over the next three weeks, members of the committee will be providing questions on behalf of their organizations for consideration by Alberta Environment and Parks Chief Scientist for Phase 1 of the review. The committee was introduced to, and supportive of, the review team as selected by Chief Scientist Dr. Fred Wrona. The review team for Phase 1 will be led by Dr. Stephen Cooke and his team at Carleton University and Dr. Eduardo G. Martins at the University of Northern British Columbia.

  • Recognized that Alberta Environment and Parks is seeking to better understand the cumulative effects of catch and release angling and other factors on fish populations, and is open to consider more than just closure of areas to recreational fishing to restore fish populations to levels that meet legislated conservation requirements and the expectations of Albertans.

The committee will meet next in late fall when an update on the progress of the independent Third-Party Scientific Review and other initiatives within the Fisheries Action Plan will be reviewed for the committee’s advice and comment.

Related Information

Updated: Aug 7, 2018