Freshwater Fisheries Management

Effective management of freshwater fisheries in BC requires collaboration between federal and provincial agencies, First Nations, local government and non-governmental partners. 

British Columbia is home to numerous species of freshwater fish. This includes a range of fin fish, shellfish and crustaceans (such as crayfish).

Fisheries are a federal responsibility under the Constitution Act. The federal Fisheries Act is thus the primary fishery management instrument in Canada. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is responsible for First Nations food, social and ceremonial (FSC) and commercial fisheries, commercial fisheries, tidal-water recreational fisheries and salmon fisheries in non-tidal waters. The federal government also oversees the Species at Risk program.

The Province has delegated authority under the Fisheries Act for non-salmon freshwater fisheries, including those for steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden. In this capacity, the province has the lead on freshwater fish governance, conservation, habitat management and recreation in B.C.. The licensing of freshwater recreational fishing is administered under the province’s Wildlife Act

To achieve its conservation and recreation objectives, the province  manages both wild and stocked fish populations. While the majority of stocking efforts are aimed at addressing recreational fishing demand, stocking is also used as a conservation tool to bolster at risk populations. The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC was established in 2003 by the Province to deliver its freshwater stocking program and to address the promotion and educational programming related to recreational fisheries.


Freshwater fisheries management across the province

Given the geographic and climatic diversity of the province as well as its varied development history, it should come as little surprise that fisheries management differs considerably from one region to another. Take this opportunity to explore the regionally specific management priorities and initiatives underway across the province.

Click on an area of interest on the map or select from the list of regional hyperlinks listed below to visit a region's freshwater fish management page.

July22, 2022: Please note that at present, only Region 4 - Kootenay, Region 6 - Skeena, and Region 7A - Omineca, are live. Other regional pages will be published as soon as they have been finalized. Please check back.

Map of provincial natural resource regions. Clicking on a specific region takes the viewer to the applicable region's Fish Management page. Links are provided below the map image for accessibility purposes.

Regional Freshwater Fish Management Links
Region 1: Vancouver Island Region 5: Cariboo
Region 2: Lower Mainland Region 6: Skeena
Region 3: Thompson-Nicola Region 7A: Omineca
Region 4: Kootenay Region 7B Northeast