UBC Graduate Research

A Review of the Impacts of Climate Change on BC's Freshwater Fish Resources and Possible Management Responses Tyedmers, Peter; Ward, Bruce


We review the potential impacts of anthropogenic climate change on BC's freshwater fish and provide a set of recommended management responses that address these potential impacts. The direct impacts are rising temperatures, altered hydrologic regimes, and changes in aquatic productivity. The indirect impacts include the potential loss of estuarine habitat due to sealevel rise, and reduced habitat availability due to increased impoundment and abstraction of water for other uses. These impacts will reinforce or counteract each other to alter the abundance and diversity of fish resources, and will make it difficult for managers to protect, restore, and enhance either the diversity of native freshwater fish or the quality of aquatic habitats. Moreover, as a large proportion of current freshwater recreational angling in the Province is conducted in areas where existing fisheries resources are most likely to be negatively influenced by global warming (i.e. in south central and southeastern regions) it will be difficult to maintain and improve the quality and quantity of recreational angling. We detail the following recommendations: 1. develop climate change scenarios that are locally specific; 2. monitor biophysical indicators of change within freshwater (i.e., monitor changes in thermo-hydrodynamic characteristics of rivers and lakes, expand stock assessment and inventory efforts in habitats of greatest concern, and identify and monitor biological indicators of climate change); 3. develop models of the distribution of freshwater fish in BC and anticipated changes; and, 4. adopt management strategies now that will reduce the impact of climate change on individual species, ecosystems, and society. We conclude that climate change will dramatically alter the abundance, distribution and utilization of many, if not all, species of freshwater fish in the Province. It is essential that in fisheries strategic plans, the challenges posed by climate change are explicitly addressed, and management responses incorporated.

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