Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 271–281 | Cite as

The status of fishways in Canada: trends identified using the national CanFishPass database

  • Charles Hatry
  • Thomas R. Binder
  • Jason D. Thiem
  • Caleb T. Hasler
  • Karen E. Smokorowski
  • Keith D. Clarke
  • Christos Katopodis
  • Steven J. Cooke


The disruption of river connectivity through the construction of barriers used for hydropower development and water control purposes can severely damage river ecosystems, reduce the quality of fish habitat, and prevent the upstream migration of fishes. Fishways function as a means of passage around barriers for fish migrating both upstream and downstream. In 2009, the CanFishPass project was initiated in a partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Carleton University to create a searchable database containing specific information on fishways in Canada built to enable upstream passage. In this paper we evaluate the information gathered in the CanFishPass database to identify trends concerning fishways and fish passage in Canada, yielding, we believe, the first national-scale trend analysis related to fishways anywhere in the world. Although CanFishPass may not include all fishways in Canada, our analysis identified 211 which are primarily located along the coasts and along major rivers and water bodies such as the Great Lakes. British Columbia has the largest number of fishways in Canada (62) and Prince Edward Island has the fewest (2). The most popular type of fishway is the pool and weir fishway (85), followed by vertical slot (37) and Denil type fishways (23). Fishway construction has proceeded at a steady rate since the 1970’s, although there has been an increase in the number of nature-like fishways since the year 2000. The majority of fishways are installed to pass salmonids in Canada, although some fishways on warmwater systems pass large components of the fish community. Only 9 % of the fishways in Canada have been studied using methods that enable proper evaluation of biological effectiveness. We recommend that evaluations be carried out at new and existing fishways and that these evaluations enable the determination of attraction and passage efficiency. Additionally, we recommend that future fishway projects and evaluations in Canada be advised to submit details of their work to CanFishPass so that knowledge of these fishways is centralized. Similar efforts on a global scale could lead to opportunities to identify patterns in fishway design and biological effectiveness that would ultimately inform decision making and improve connectivity where deemed necessary.


Fishway Database CanFishPass Migration Barrier Dam 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Hatry
    • 1
  • Thomas R. Binder
    • 1
  • Jason D. Thiem
    • 1
  • Caleb T. Hasler
    • 1
  • Karen E. Smokorowski
    • 2
  • Keith D. Clarke
    • 3
  • Christos Katopodis
    • 4
  • Steven J. Cooke
    • 1
  1. 1.Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic SciencesFisheries and Oceans CanadaMarieCanada
  3. 3.Northwest Atlantic Fisheries CentreFisheries and Oceans CanadaSt. John’sCanada
  4. 4.Freshwater InstituteFisheries and Oceans CanadaWinnipegCanada

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