September 1, 2021

How to Help Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Efforts in B.C.

We often hear from anglers who wish to volunteer their services and time to help conserve and enhance British Columbia’s freshwater fisheries. We are fortunate to have diverse fishing opportunities in this province; many anglers are searching for ways to contribute back to the resource that they enjoy and help protect it for future generations.
So, how can you help? Start by being informed, and following best practices to reduce your personal impact on the aquatic environment and the fisheries it supports. Make donations to fund the important work done by conservation groups. For those who want to get their hands dirty, local stewardship organizations offer many activities to participate – right in the field. You can contribute in so many ways!
Let’s look at some of the top things you can do to help British Columbia’s freshwater fisheries.

  1. Buy your freshwater fishing licence

By simply purchasing your freshwater fishing licence, you are giving back to the fisheries resource. Under an agreement between the Province and the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, the Society receives 100% of the revenue generated from fishing licenses and uses it to fund research and monitoring, conservation and education programs, improving angler access, and delivering the stocking program. The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation receives 100% of the surcharge revenue collected from fishing licence sales to provide grants for fish conservation projects.

  1. Be a conservation-minded angler

Protecting fish habitat starts at the individual level. While at the lake or river, follow our guide to minimize your impact on the fishery, and leave the location cleaner than you found it. If you practice catch-and-release, follow these tips to ensure you reduce harm and stress to fish.

  1. Be a conservation-minded citizen

Around your home, there are steps you can take to protect and enhance your local watershed. This is especially important if you live in an urban landscape, where water often flows quickly across impermeable surfaces into storm drains which lead to waterways and the ocean. Pollutants in the water, and increased water turbidity, can negatively affect spawning areas and fish habitat.
Property owners can act in several ways: 

  • Prevent pollutants from entering storm sewers or the groundwater. For example, pesticides, fertilizers, oil, bleach, and soap – all commonly used household liquids – can have significant negative impacts on fish health and water quality. 
  • Create permeable surfaces on your property (e.g., gravel versus solid pavement) and support a diverse variety of plants to help moderate surface and groundwater flows during high rainfall events that can cause erosion and flash floods in nearby streams. Such events can wipe out developing fish eggs and vulnerable juvenile fish. 
  • Reduce water use, especially during dry summer months. The use of native plant species suited to local conditions means less watering. Similarly, consider alternatives to thirsty monoculture lawns.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint. Drought and warm water associated with climate change have a negative impact on fish; in British Columbia, native trout and salmon are especially vulnerable. Since households contribute approximately 20% of our total greenhouse gas emissions, individual choices are not insignificant.
  1. Volunteer with a community stewardship group

Contribute directly to conservation efforts in your community by volunteering your time and services to a local group. There are hundreds of groups across B.C. that may need volunteers to perform stream clean-up, habitat rehabilitation, water and fish monitoring, advocacy, public outreach, and other activities. The following is a small selection:

Province-wide organizations:

Local organizations:

Vancouver Island

Lower Mainland



Many local fishing clubs also pursue various conservation-focussed activities. Check out one near you.

  1. Volunteer with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC

The Society occasionally invites volunteers to assist with seasonal work at our hatcheries. Contact your closest hatchery to find out more about opportunities in your area.

  1. Donate to a fisheries conservation organization

Again, there are many options to choose from, but some of the major groups include:

  1. Apply for a grant

Have a conservation project in mind, but need funding to make it happen? There are several fish and wildlife grants available to individuals and small organizations each year. Some of these include:

Author: Jessica Greinke, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC.
Images: Natalie Francev, Noel Fox, Katie Dowe.