Alberta fish species status as classified by Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division and/or the Committee on the Status of Endangered
Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)
There are 65 species of fish in Alberta, 54 that are native or have well-established introduced populations and 11 additional
exotic species. The following is a list of the 14 species whose status as viable species in the province is of concern to
the Fish and Wildlife Division. The populations of the remaining fish species in this province are considered to be healthy.
This long-lived, slowly reproducing species has been experiencing long-term declines. In 2007 it was designated a Threatened
species under Alberta's Wildlife Act, and also in 2007, COSEWIC recommended an Endangered designation for the Saskatchewan
River population in Canada (pending listing under the Species at Risk Act).
In Alberta, a recovery plan is under development; an earlier Lake Sturgeon Management Plan was completed in 1996.
The lake sturgeon populations in the North and South Saskatchewan rivers are being managed under different regulations starting
in 1997. There is a zero catch limit is in effect for sturgeon in both the North Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan Rivers.
For more information on management and recovery planning for lake sturgeon, see:
In Alberta, this species only occurs in one location, Barrow Lake, found in northeastern Alberta. It was designated as Threatened
in Alberta in 2007; this species occurs in several provinces outside of Alberta and is also listed as Threatened under the
federal Species at Risk Act.
A provincial recovery plan was approved in 2007 and is now in the implementation stage. Federal recovery planning is in
For more information on recovery planning for shortjaw cisco, see:
St. Mary Sculpin
Once confused with the shorthead sculpin, the St. Mary sculpin is considered to be a distinct species. This fish was designated
as Threatened in Alberta in 2007, and is also listed as Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act.
Joint provincial and federal recovery planning is being carried out by the Milk River Fish Species Recovery Team.
For more information on recovery planning for St. Mary sculpin, see:
In Alberta, this species only occurs in the Milk River drainage. It was designated as Threatened in Alberta in 2007.
A provincial recovery plan is being developed by the Milk River Fish Species Recovery Team.
For more information on recovery planning for stonecat, see:
Western Silvery Minnow
Little is known about the biology of western silvery minnow. It was designated as Threatened in Alberta in 2007, and is
also listed as Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act.
Joint provincial and federal recovery planning is being carried out by the Milk River Fish Species Recovery Team. A provincial
recovery plan was approved in October 2008 and is now in the implementation stage; a federal recovery plan was also approved
For more information on recovery planning for western silvery minnow, see:
Also visit the Government of Canada Species at Risk Public Registry website at:
Westslope Cutthroat Trout
Although introduced stocks of cutthroat trout are relatively abundant, pure, native stocks, known as westslope cutthroat
trout, are at risk because of their restricted and fragmented distribution and continuing declines.
The native stocks of this species have been approved for listing as Threatened in Alberta under the Wildlife
Act (awaiting legislative amendment), and have also been recommended by COSEWIC for listing as Threatened under the
federal Species At Risk Act (listing is pending).
Joint provincial and federal recovery planning is in process.
For more information on recovery planning for westslope cutthroat trout, see:
Species of Special Concern
The Arctic grayling is designated as a Species of Special Concern in Alberta as a result of its vulnerability to angling
pressure and habitat destruction.
The Fisheries Management Division first developed a species management and recovery plan in 1997; the status of various
populations is under review and an updated management plan is being written.
Preliminary indications are that the species has not responded to the 30 centimetre minimum size limit (with a daily limit
of five grayling) introduced in 1987.
For more information on Arctic grayling and its management, see:
The bull trout is designated as a Species of Special Concern in Alberta.
A Bull Trout Species Management and Recovery Plan was prepared in 1995; the status of various populations is under review
and the management plan is currently being updated. A zero limit has been placed on bull trout in Alberta until such time
as there is a harvestable surplus.
A major information and education initiative has been ongoing since the 1995 management plan was completed. The slogan “No
black, put it back!” has been developed to reinforce the zero catch limit, as bull trout do not have any black spots or
marks on their dorsal fins.
Trout Unlimited Canada has embarked on an extensive sign campaign along streams throughout the entire eastern slopes of
the Rocky Mountains in Alberta to caution anglers not to keep any bull trout.
For more information on bull trout and its management, see:
The pygmy whitefish is known from Waterton Lakes and a few locations in the Athabasca River drainage. Virtually nothing
is known about the biology of this species in Alberta.
In 2000 this species was designated a Data Deficient species by the Endangered Species Conservation Committee. A small number
were captured during targeted field work in 2008, and a re-evaluation of the species' status is planned for the near future.
Species Awaiting More Detailed Assessment
The brassy minnow is known from a few locations in the Milk River drainage and some isolated locations in northern Alberta
The status of this species should be assessed in greater detail.
The deepwater sculpin is not yet classified, but its status is of some concern. It is known only from Waterton Lakes in
Waterton Lakes National Park.
This species has been assessed by COSEWIC and found to be Not At Risk in Canada.
Alberta's Golden Trout Management Plan was completed in 1995 for this species, as it is considered to be of particular management
concern. Alberta is the only Canadian province with golden trout. The species was first introduced in 1959 from its native
alpine lakes in California.
The plan is being implemented to conserve this unique species and at the same time provide some special fishing opportunities
by way of restrictive angling regulations. See:
Smallmouth bass were stocked into Island Lake (near Smoky Lake) between 1977 and 1984. Until 1989 there was some evidence
of natural reproduction.
It is not known whether this population is self-sustaining at the present time. However it is presumed there are a few fish
left. As this is a non-native species, no special monitoring is planned.
Sustainable Resource Development
Government of Canada
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Posted: December 23