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Fish Sustainability Index

What is the Fish Sustainability Index (FSI)?

The Fish Sustainability Index (FSI) is Alberta Fish and Wildlife’s method of assessing fish stocks on a provincial scale.

Alberta is experiencing rapid growth and environmental change. Fisheries managers must understand the ‘big picture’ of how present conditions and future threats will affect fish.

The FSI was developed to bring consistency to individual fish stock assessments and provide a province-wide evaluation of the status and sustainability of Alberta fish species.

FSI: How It's Done

We use data and information from a variety of sources, including:

  • Fisheries surveys
  • Scientific literature
  • Local and traditional knowledge
  • Expert opinion

Seventeen different metrics are summarized and integrated to classify:

  • Population integrity
  • The productive potential of the habitat
  • Threats and their mitigation

We also evaluate the reliability of the data used to score each metric based on the amount of data/information, the age of the data, and its consistency.

Together, these metrics provide a description of the current status of a fish population, their habitat and the threats they face.

Scoring the Metrics

Each metric is scored on a scale from 0 to 5.

  • 0 is a fish population has already disappeared or one that is no longer sustainable
  • 1 is a population that is least sustainable
  • 5 is the most sustainable population

For the majority of FSI metrics, these rankings are easily translated into an evaluation of risk, where a FSI score of 1 is a population at very high risk, and a rank of 4 and 5 represent a population at low risk.

For more details, see:

Fish Sustainability Index ranking scale

Why is the FSI Useful?

The results of the FSI can be used to support the following actions:

  • Allow for broad comparisons to changes in fish species sustainability over time.
  • Allow for comparisons between fish sustainability and management actions.
  • Direct effective future recovery and management actions.
  • Educate decision-makers, conservation partners, private industry and the public on the status and risk of fish species compared to historical levels, how the condition of surrounding watershed is influencing fish population health, and threats that may jeopardize population persistence.
  • Provide information to assist in the development of specific watershed restoration plans and integrated watershed strategies.


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Updated: Aug 16, 2018