The Government of Canada is working with partners to protect aquatic species at risk in British Columbia

News release

November 25, 2020

Vancouver, British Columbia - The health of our marine and freshwater environment and the wildlife it sustains are critical to our country’s culture, well-being, and the economy. Yet some of the species that find their home in the waters, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and marshes in British Columbia are at risk due to climate change, habitat loss and other factors. The Government of Canada is taking action not only to protect these species, but to actively rebuild their populations.  

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Member of Parliament for Burnaby North-Seymour and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister, Terry Beech, announced up to $10.9 million in funding under the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk for 13 projects in British Columbia, some of which are already underway.

Some of the projects will address physical and acoustic disturbance threats to marine species at risk, as well as threats resulting from fishing interactions along Canada’s Pacific Coast. Others will tackle threats to the habitat of freshwater and salmonid species at risk in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds. Work is underway for many of the projects, and will help the recovery of species such as Resident killer whales and Pacific populations of other whales, Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon, Steelhead trout, White sturgeon, Yelloweye rockfish, and many other species.

Through this fund, established under the Nature Legacy initiative, the Government of Canada is helping to build a culture of conservation that empowers Canadian organizations to work together to protect our natural environments. This fund is taking an ecosystem approach to restoring and protecting aquatic species. Instead of targeting specific species, these projects aim to improve a priority place or a priority threat. This broader approach looks at improving the entire ecosystem – from the specific species at risk, the habitat they call home, as well as other species in the area.

The Government of Canada established the historic $1.3 billion Nature Legacy Initiative in Budget 2018. The five-year, $55 million Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk supports a new approach to the conservation of aquatic species through targeted federal investments in priority places and to address priority threats to aquatic species at risk. The Fund makes it possible to support protection and recovery efforts by all partners, and support Indigenous capacity to conserve aquatic ecosystems and species.


“With nearly two million lakes, endless connected waterways, and the longest coastline in the world, Canada is home to countless marine and freshwater species and habitats that breathe life into our environment. Our government is taking strong, consistent action to protect these species and revitalize the ecosystems they depend on – because when nature thrives, our communities thrive. By making targeted investments through Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk, we are able to collaborate with Indigenous peoples and environmental organizations on projects that have the greatest potential to make a lasting impact on our natural environments.” 

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“The Fraser and Columbia Watersheds are a critical part of our culture and economy on the Pacific Coast, but many species in this region are at risk. Through the Canada Nature Fund, our government is taking strong, consistent action to reverse these declines, by improving water quality and decreasing migration barriers. By partnering with organizations who are already leading conservation efforts on the ground, we are ensuring our investments will make a real difference in the areas that need it most.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change 

“Our coastal waters and inland watersheds are special, natural aquatic environments and are home to numerous aquatic species at risk. Through the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk, the Government of Canada will work with partners in British Columbia, and across Canada, to protect and recover aquatic species at risk and their habitats.”

Terry Beech, Member of Parliament for Burnaby-North Seymour

Quick facts

  • Projects funded under the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk focus on two marine priority threats and seven priority areas.

  • The two marine priority threats are:

    • Fishing interactions (includes entanglement and bycatch of aquatic species at risk)
    • Physical and acoustic disturbance (includes vessel collisions and marine noise)  
  • The seven freshwater priority areas are:

    • Fraser and Columbia Watersheds Priority Area (British Columbia)
    • Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes Priority Area (Alberta)
    • Southern Prairies Priority Area (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba)
    • Lower Great Lakes Watershed Priority Area (Ontario)
    • St. Lawrence Lowlands Priority Area (Quebec)
    • Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Rivers Priority Area (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island)
    • Bay of Fundy and Southern Uplands Watersheds Priority Area (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick) 

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Jane Deeks
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 

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