Forage Fish: the importance of citizen science
Jaclyn Cleary, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
Excerpt from 2020 article
Forage fish, such as herring (Clupea pallasii) and eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus), are important species in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound’s ecosystem, providing food for many animals higher up the food chain. In recent years there has been an increased focus on improving our knowledge on the state of forage fish populations and on improving management practices for these species. Citizen science groups, non-profit organizations, and government bodies have all realized the key role that forage fish play in the ecosystem. As such, these organizations have allocated time and funds to increase research and restoration of these species and their habitats.
Read the full article to see what else is happening.
Background: Herring spawn on hemlock boughs. (Credit: John Buchanan)
What’s been done since 2017?
The table below reports on progress made on recommended actions from the previous 2017 article, where identified. Many of these require ongoing action.
|2017 Action||Action Taken|
|Individual and Organization Actions|
|Support research, monitoring and protection of forage fish habitats and water quality.||
|Government Action and Policy|
|Prioritize and fund research, monitoring and protection of forage fish habitats.||The Coastal Restoration Fund, an Oceans Protection Plan initiative, was announced in May 2017. In May 2018, the fund awarded two grants to groups operating in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound.
Bill C-68, an amendment to the Fisheries Act, came into effect August 28, 2019. The provision allows for extra protections and considerations to be made with respect to fish stocks, fish habitat and conservation of marine biodiversity, among other things.3 Green Shores for Coastal Development – Credits and ratings voluntary program for minimizing environmental impact of waterfront development. This program was awarded funding in Jan/Feb 2019 from Natural Resources Canada as part of the Federal Climate Change Adaptation Program.4 The shoreline is key spawning habitat for many forage fish, and soft-shore development options can help reduce egg mortality.5
1Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Government of Canada makes significant Coastal Restoration Fund investments in British Columbia through the Oceans Protection Plan. Online. (2018).
2Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Government of Canada makes a significant Coastal Restoration Fund investment in the Squamish River Estuary through the Oceans Protection Plan. (2018).
3Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Fish and fish habitat protection policy statement. Online (2019).
4Green Shores. Green shores funding announcement. (2019).
5De Graaf, R. Valdes Island, British Columbia Surf smelt and Pacific sand lance Spawning Habitat Suitability Assessments. (2017).
What can you do?
A detailed overview of recommended actions relating to climate change is included in The path to zero carbon municipalities. In some cases, no progress was identified on previous recommended actions; these remain listed below. Additional actions marked as NEW also follow.
- NEW Be aware of beaches near you that are used as spawning beaches by forage fish. Take care not to disturb these areas.
Government Action and Policy:
- Monitor and enforce the legislation (B.C. Land Act) that prohibits changes below the high tide line without lease or license of occupation.
- NEW Increase funding in support of monitoring forage fish numbers and distribution in Átl’ḵa7tsem/ Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound.