Government of Canada invests in partnerships to support freshwater habitat research

News release

June 16, 2021

Ottawa, Ontario - Freshwater habitats include the numerous lakes, rivers, streams and waterways that are part of Canada’s diverse aquatic ecosystem. These versatile habitats and species that call them home have been affected by human activity and environmental changes. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting research that will study and inform us on how we can sustainably protect freshwater habitats for all Canadians.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced $805,999 over three years in funding for three freshwater habitat research projects. This funding supports research focused on studying the relationships between environmental impacts and freshwater fish and fish habitat, including cumulative stressors, freshwater connectivity and fish passage, as part of a broader freshwater habitat science program across Canada.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation received $303,038 in funding to support a project to develop and build a national aquatic barriers database that identifies and maps barriers to fish, such as weirs and dams. The Salmon Watersheds Lab at Simon Fraser University received $299,961 to study the impact of cumulative stressors on salmon in British Columbia. The Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of New Brunswick received $203,000 to evaluate fish behaviour in relation to passage and to develop a practical geographic information system tool that maps fish access to streams across landscapes.

Research on our countless freshwater habitats and its inhabitants is essential to ensuring the sustainable management of our aquatic resources. The data and information collected from the research announced today will help inform us on how to keep Canada’s lakes, rivers and streams and waterways healthy for generations to come.


“Canada has one of the largest supplies of freshwater in the world, and protecting these ecosystems is vital to ensuring the health of the species that live within them. Our government will continue investing in smart science and research that strengthens partnerships and allows for a better understanding of how to support our freshwater resources, now and into the future.”

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

“Changes in our freshwater temperature and conditions have a significant impact on fish habitats. The research that groups like the Salmon Watersheds Lab at Simon Fraser University are undertaking is paramount to ensuring the health of our fish, oceans, and environment. Through an investment of $299,961 to study the impact of ecological changes on salmon in the interior of British Columbia, our government is working to preserve BC's lakes, rivers, and streams”.

Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North – Seymour

“Our government has made the conservation and restoration of Canada’s natural environment a clear priority. Today’s announcement towards freshwater research will allow more teams to study, help protect and rebuild our freshwater habitats and the many species that call them home. I look forward to seeing the results of the vital work that the Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of New Brunswick will undertake with these supports.”

Wayne Long, Member of Parliament for Saint John – Rothesay 

“Countless dams, culverts, levees, and other structures block fish movements in Canada and fragment freshwater systems. We are mapping these features to provide tools for scientists and managers to better understand their effects on freshwaters and support efforts to reconnect our waters.”

Dr. Nicolas Lapointe, PhD., Senior Conservation Biologist Freshwater Ecology, Canadian Wildlife Federation

"Salmon watersheds are rapidly changing due to the cumulative impacts of climate change and human activities. We aim to tackle key scientific uncertainties in understanding these changing systems and then work with diverse partners to translate this understanding to action." 

Dr. Jonathan Moore, Project Lead, Watershed Futures Initiative; Professor, Simon Fraser University

"This project will use an innovative multidisciplinary approach to identifying barriers and improving connectivity for fish passage. It’s an exciting opportunity to create a new, cost-effective assessment tool that managers and land-use practitioners can use to identify areas of concern and targets for remediation.”

Dr. Kurt Samways, Parks Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Restoration, University of New Brunswick, and Research Fellow, Canadian Rivers Institute

Quick facts

  • About 20% of the world’s freshwater is found in the glaciers, lakes, rivers and aquifers across Canada, but only 7% of these resources are accessible for use.

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada funds research on impacts of activities on freshwater habitat through its science programs.

  • Canadian Wildlife Federation works with municipal, provincial, federal and Indigenous governments, coupled with stewardship and industry groups, to secure the funding, support and technical expertise needed to implement fish passage improvement projects, starting in British Columbia and extending to our entire nation. 

  • The Watershed Futures Initiative is a collaborative initiative led by the Salmon Watersheds Lab of Simon Fraser University that will undertake and coordinate research on cumulative effects in British Columbia’s salmon-bearing watersheds, initiate dialogue among researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers, and share emerging results via webinars and workshops.

  • The University of New Brunswick is home to the first Parks Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Restoration, which builds on the university’s significant expertise in marine, coastal and freshwater science. The University is also home to the Canadian Rivers Institute, an international network of scientists working to make every river a healthy river.

Associated links


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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