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Direct and indirect estimates of the productive capacity of fish habitat under Canada’s Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat: where have we been, where are we now, and where are we going?

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No net loss of productive capacity (PC) of fish habitat has been the central concept guiding Canadian fish habitat management policy since 1986. The purpose of this paper is to describe the concept of PC, to review the history and application of the fish habitat management policy in Canada, and to provide a critical review of the range of potential approaches to estimating PC. The approaches were grouped by their central focus: habitat, individual, population, and community–ecosystem. A set of case studies is used to illustrate the use of some approaches drawn from freshwater and marine contexts. Ten components to assessing no net loss of PC were developed and used in the review of approaches for evaluating potential limitations. The review also highlighted the likely future direction of method development, with increasing emphasis on dynamic models integrating population responses to habitat supply characteristics. More work needs to be done to turn research-based metrics of PC into practical operational management assessment tools and to better quantify the link between habitat structure and function and fisheries productivity. The evolving approaches to measure PC reinforce the ties that fish habitat management has to the emerging practices in ecosystem-based management.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bayfield Institute, Great Lakes Laboratory of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, P.O. Box 5050, 867 Lakeshore Road, Bington, ON L7R 4A6, Canada. 2: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 1219 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2E5, Canada. 3: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ecological Sciences Section, Science Branch, P.O. Box 5667, St. John’s, NL A1C 5X1, Canada. 4: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Centre of Expertise for Aquatic Habitat Research, Ecological Sciences Section, 80 E. White Hills Road, P.O. Box 5667, St. John’s, NL A1C 5X1, Canada. 5: Canadian Rivers Institute, University of New Brunswick, Department of Biology, P.O. Box 4400, Fredericton, NB E3A 5B3, Canada. 6: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Habitat Policy Branch, 200 Kent Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0E6, Canada.

Publication date: December 23, 2011

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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