Fisheries Sensitive Watersheds

Stream crossings like this one need to be carefully constructed to ensure minimal impact on aquatic habitats. Monitoring will help to determine if regulations to protect fisheries values are working.

A “fisheries sensitive watershed” (FSW) is a legal designation applied to an area of land making up a watershed. The designation gets its authority under the Government Actions Regulation (GAR) through the Forest and Range Practices Act. In order to qualify as an FSW, a waterway must have significant fisheries value and watershed sensitivity.

An FSW designation serves as a forest management planning requirement to consider the range of values and sensitivities entailing special management in order to conserve fish habitat values.  Efficacy monitoring is seen as essential to ensuring the success of a FSW as a regulatory conservation measure.  Through monitoring, government and resource managers will determine whether best practices are having the desired outcomes by testing assumptions around various practices that are aimed at ensuring maintenance and restoration of fish habitat values.  Currently, government, along with various partners, is preparing a FSW monitoring protocol designed to measure the effectiveness of FSW designations and associated management practices. Additionally, through the Climate Change Adaptation Planning for NW Skeena Communities Project, the protocol is being broadened in order to help measure watershed level changes that can be attributed to climate change.

The ability to monitor watershed condition, detect change, and report out on trends overtime, will serve as an important planning tool.  This tool will help resource planners engage in ongoing dialogues with communities and professionals, to better support decision making and governance surrounding sustaining natural resource values essential to the social, cultural and economic health of an area.

The following presentation outlines the development of the monitoring framework:

Developing a Watershed Based Fisheries Values Monitoring Protocol – CCAP Presentation Feb 2011

Phase one of the FSW field monitoring and data collection process took place in June 2011. Click here for photos and information.