Fish & Wildlife



Fish habitat and species monitoring is conducted along the Toronto waterfront by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and its partners, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).


Data from this long-term monitoring provides valuable information to resource management agencies, as fish are sensitive to a wide range of stressors.


Sampling efforts cover a range of habitats such as open coast, sheltered embayments, coastal wetlands and river mouth systems. This extensive monitoring helps in making educated assessments of the composition and health of the fish community along the Toronto waterfront and informs prioritization, planning and design of aquatic habitat creation and restoration projects.


TRCA staff monitor aquatic habitat on Toronto waterfront



TRCA’s Regional Watershed Monitoring Program is a science-based long-term monitoring initiative that collects aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem data at the watershed and sub-watershed scale across the region.


The monitoring program, which has been in place since 2001, includes more than 500 sites that are used for the collection of data related to water quality, hydrology, stream temperature, groundwater and aquatic communities and habitat.


Data collection and analysis is ongoing and is used to support watershed plan updates and to inform the assessment of the Fish and Wildlife Populations and Habitats Beneficial Uses within the Area of Concern.


TRCA monitoring staff member holds catfish



In 2010, researchers from Carleton University, the University of Toronto and TRCA began tracking fish movements to gather information on habitat selection, movement corridors, residency timing and other factors.


An acoustic telemetry array was established in the Central Toronto Waterfront, with receivers placed in targeted areas in the Inner and Outer Harbours, Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto Islands and surrounding areas.


Between 2010 and 2015, 320 fish were tagged from a variety of species, including Northern Pike, Bowfin, Common Carp, Largemouth Bass and others.




Water Quality



In 2008, various agencies joined together for an intensive year of monitoring water quality, flows and tributary discharge, currents and other parameters in Lake Ontario, including along the Toronto waterfront.


This work was done as part of the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI), a multilateral process to enhance cooperation among agency scientists and academic researchers on both sides of the Great Lakes. It allowed researchers to study issues such as land-based influences on water quality, the impacts of tributary discharge on the nearshore and the influence of the nearshore on the distribution of organic chemicals associated with wastewater.


Intensive study was also carried out in 2012 to gather information on where and how ambient water quality conditions change over time, through the periodic monitoring of a suite of indicators at a small network of nearshore stations on the Great Lakes.


In 2013, CSMI focused on offshore waters and the lower food web. As part of this assessment, phytoplankton and zooplankton were sampled along the Toronto waterfront.


CSMI will return to Lake Ontario in 2018.



In 2015, the Toronto and Region Remedial Action Plan held its first annual science seminar, with more than 60 attendees from various levels of government.


The seminar included presentations on a variety of projects and activities being undertaken in the Toronto and Region Area of Concern (AOC), all of which will contribute toward de-listing the Toronto and Region as an AOC within the Great Lakes.


Our second annual science seminar took place on November 14, 2016. You can view all of the presentations HERE.