Development of a National Fish Passage Database for Canada (CanFishPass): Rationale, Approach, Utility, and Potential Applicability to Other Regions

Publication Date



activity, barriers, Canada, design, engineering, fish passage, fishway design, fishways, Hydropower, irrigation, migration, photographs, upstream, upstream migration

Journal or Book Title

Canadian Water Resources Journal


Barriers resulting from anthropogenic activities (e.g., hydropower development, irrigation, flood control, low flow augmentation) can prevent the upstream migration of fish, reducing the connectivity of river systems. As a result, great efforts have been devoted to the design and installation of engineered fishways to enable the movement of fishes across barriers. However, the literature is generally devoid of scientific papers dealing with fishway design and effectiveness, making it difficult for those developing such facilities to determine which fishway designs are most appropriate for a given system and target species. One approach for providing information to support future fishway development is through the creation of databases that contain detailed accounts of existing facilities. Described here is the development of an engineered fishway database in Canada (called CanFishPass) intended to serve as a repository for information that has previously been difficult to find. The database includes detailed geo-referenced information such as engineering details, hydraulic characteristics, and biological effectiveness of one general class of fish passage facility (i.e., engineered fishways), as well as photographs and design drawings where available. The database is searchable by species, fishway type, and ecozone, and includes a reference section comprised of both peer-reviewed and "grey" literature. It is anticipated that the database will serve as an important resource for future fishway development projects enabling quantitative analyses, while also serving as the first inventory of engineered fishways in Canada. Although our efforts to date have been focused on Canada, the expansion to a global inventory of fishways would enable opportunities to learn directly from facility operations in other regions.







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