Climate change is impacting freshwater fishes, and their habitats around the world. In Canada, there are 213 fish species that use freshwater habitat throughout all or some of their life cycle. These ecosystems and fishes are critically important to Canadians. Climate-related changes in habitats are impacting the ecological and biological processes of fishes, including their distributions, demography, phenology, evolution, and assemblage dynamics, as well as the availability of fisheries resources in different lakes and rivers of Canada. The available evidence suggests that the direction of these effects (positive, neutral, or negative) are dependent upon the interplay among the magnitude of changes, and the traits and ecology of the species that are experiencing those changes. Many avenues of research are still needed; ranging from understanding the genetic adaptive potential of individual species, understanding thermal bottlenecks for species and adaptation measures, and understanding how climate change interacts with other stresses to affect the status of fishes and fisheries. The most direct way to combat climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect and restore natural carbon sinks, both through broad-scale institutional and societal change. However, complementary adaptation actions that include legislation, policies, management, regulation, research, restoration, translocation, and stewardship are starting to be implemented in different jurisdictions across Canada. The collective uptake of these actions will ensure the sustainability of freshwater ecosystems, fishes, and fisheries for the future.

Citation: Chu, C., de Kerckhove, D. T., Guzzo, M. and M. S. Poesch. (2023) Climate change and its impacts on freshwater fish and fisheries in Canada. In Perspectives in Canadian Fisheries, Cooke, S. , Hasler, C., Mandrak, N.E.M. and J. Imhof (eds.). American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Also Read:

Serbu, J. A., St. Louis, V. L., Emmerton, C. A., Tank S., Criscitello, A., Silins, U., Bhatia, M., Cavaco, M., Christenson, C., Cooke, C., Drapeau, H., Enns, S. J., Flett, J., Holland, K., Lavelle-Whiffen, J., Ma, M., Muir, C., Poesch, M. S., and J. Shin. (2023). A comprehensive biogeochemical assessment of climate-threatened glacial river headwaters on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. JGR Biogeosciences.

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