FSI metrics and mapping

The Fish Sustainability Index (FSI) uses a number of metrics in 3 main categories to evaluate provincial fish status.


The FSI is the provincial fish-population assessment measure. It evaluates provincial fish status by assessing numerous metrics. These are grouped into 3 main categories:

  • population integrity
  • productive potential of the habitat
  • threats and their mitigation

For each metric, the following factors are considered about the data being used to perform assessments:

  • quality
  • quantity
  • timeliness

Grouping the metrics

Group Category Metrics
Population integrity Population density Historical adult density
Current adult density
Immature density
Genetic integrity Degree of hybridization
Genetic similarity to original stock
Genetic distinction
Ecological integrity Changes to predators
Changes to prey
Change to competitors
Productive potential


Geographic extent
Natural limitations to productivity
Anthropogenic limitations to productivity
Threat mitigation


Habitat protection need
Overharvest protection need
Habitat protection availability
Overharvest protection availability
Exotic species threat

Population integrity

Metrics in this group examine how the following factors influence fish population status:

  • population density
  • genetic integrity
  • composition of the fish community

Population density

Density metrics evaluate the historic abundance of the undisturbed fish population. They also evaluate the current abundance of immature and adult fish in a population. A population with few fish is at higher risk of disappearing in the future.

Here are detailed explanations of these factors:

  • Historical adult density: the relative abundance of adult fish in a population when it was undisturbed by humans.
  • Current adult density: the current relative abundance of adult fish in a population compared to an undisturbed population.
  • Current immature density: the current relative abundance of immature fish in a population compared to an undisturbed population.

Genetic integrity

These metrics assess the genetic composition of a fish population.

  • Degree of hybridization: the proportion of a population that has hybridized (i.e. bred) with non-native or exotic stocks.
  • Genetic similarity to original stock: how altered the original fish population has become through human activities, for example: stocking, overharvest, changes to water quality.
  • Genetic distinction: describes the number and distribution of genetically distinct or unique populations.

A population with the following characteristics is at a higher risk of being lost in the future:

  • more hybrids
  • greatly altered stock
  • highly unique

Ecological integrity

Biologists are concerned about the negative impact of changes to composition and abundance of species in fish communities. These metrics address how the following changes can impact a focal fish species.

  • Changes to predators: addresses whether changes in predators threaten the sustainability of the focal fish species.
  • Changes to prey: addresses whether changes in prey threaten the sustainability of the focal fish species.
  • Changes to competitors: addresses whether changes in competitors threaten the sustainability of the focal fish species.

Productive potential

This metrics group assesses how size and productivity of habitat may protect or threaten a fish population. It focuses specifically on how human disturbances affect habitat.

  • Geographic extent: measures the size of the habitat inhabited by a fish population.
  • Natural limitations to productivity: assess factors that may naturally impact the productivity of the fish habitat.
  • Anthropogenic limitations to productivity: assess human-caused factors that may impact the productivity of the fish habitat.

Threat mitigation

These metrics assess threats faced by a fish population from fishing pressure and habitat alteration. They also assess what protection is currently available and the threat of exotic species.

  • Habitat protection need: the amount of habitat protection needed, based on current threats.
  • Overharvest protection need: the amount of overharvest protection needed, based on current fishing effort.
  • Habitat protection availability: a measure of existing fish habitat protection.
  • Overharvest protection availability: the type of fishing regulations currently in place.
  • Exotic species threat: the risk associated with the presence of exotic species.

FSI assessments

FSI assessments can be viewed and downloaded with the Fish and Wildlife Internet Mapping Tool (FWMIT), an interactive mapping platform. To access the assessments, visit:

FWMIT includes individual species pages for maps and summaries of FSI findings. Some of the priority species you will find include:

Upcoming FSI assessments

Assessments are in progress for the following priority FSI species:

  • burbot
  • mountain whitefish
  • northern pike (rivers)
  • sauger
  • walleye (rivers)
  • yellow perch


For more information about individual species results or feedback, contact Laura MacPherson, fish stock assessment biologist:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-422-3196
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Fax: 780-422-9685
Email: [email protected]

Fisheries Management Policy
7th floor, OS Longman Building
6909 116 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T6H 4P2

Previous Bull Trout FSI