Fisheries Sensitive Watersheds

Developing a Monitoring Framework for Fisheries Sensitive Watersheds

British Columbia Ministry of Environment

Under British Columbia’s Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA), the B.C. Minister of Environment is authorised to designate a watershed as a Fisheries Sensitive Watershed (FSW) if it has either: 1) significant fish values; or 2) watershed sensitivity. FSW designation includes setting associated objectives aimed at directing forest and range management activities in a manner that maintains and protects habitat conditions essential to fish (e.g., hydrology, stream bed dynamics, channel integrity, water quality and quantity, and cumulative hydrological effects). Thirty-one FSWs have been designated to date by the Minister and, over the course of the next several years, there are plans to identify and designate additional watersheds in the province as FSWs.

ESSA was contracted to assist the Ministry of Environment (MOE), in conjunction with the Ministry of Forests and Range (MOFR), with developing the framework for an effectiveness monitoring program that can be used to determine whether FSWs are meeting their intended goals. ESSA’s role in the project involved three phases of work:

  1. Conducting an expert literature review of the current and relevant science/information on watershed-based effectiveness monitoring methodologies with specific reference to aquatic stream channel (fish habitat) conditions
  2. Recommending well-founded options for a cost effective and statistically valid multi-scale FSW monitoring program design, based on review of various approaches to monitoring watersheds at the landscape and regional level, and bearing in mind the data (and other) resources available to the Ministry
  3. Implementing two FSW monitoring pilot projects (evaluating required personnel [i.e. expertise], resource requirements, and cost estimates) within the Lakelse drainage of north central BC and the Memekay watershed of eastern Vancouver Island.


Conceptual model

FSW Conceptual Report – Nov 5 2008

Monitoring framework

FSW Monitoring Framework Protocol Description – March 16 2009 v4

Work plan

FSW Pilot workplan – Final (April 23 2009)

Remote sensed based monitoring protocols for FSWs (Tier 1)

Tier 1 watershed monitoring rationale_V3_DRAFT_Sept. 27_2012

Tier 1 watershed values monitoring protocol_V3.1_DRAFT_Feb04_2013

Field based monitoring protocols for FSWs (Tier 2)

Tier II watershed monitoring protocol rationale V3 DRAFT April30 2012

Tier II watershed monitoring protocol_V3_DRAFT_April30_2012

FSW Monitoring – Outreach for the FFESC project

FFESC Meeting Sept 8 2011

FFESC Meeting Feb 18 2011

Williams Creek example habitat dashboard

Lakelse Wsd Monitoring – FFESC Wrap-up Meeting Dec 8 2011

Lakelse Tier I metrics thresholds

Lakelse Pilot FSW Sampling – Training May 2011

FSW Monitoring – FFESC Meeting April 14 2010

FSW Monitoring – FFESC UBC v1.2