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Fish Habitat Assessment – Level One


The Fish Habitat Assessment (FHA) – Level One course is an intensive, ‘hands-on’, online and field-based two-day review of standard North American fish and fish habitat assessment and evaluation methods.  In this course, participants will learn first-hand how to conduct measurements, assessments and evaluations of stream morphology, fish habitat features, substrate, pebble counts, stream impacts and habitat limiting factors.   

Each NRTG course includes free, lifetime admission. Enrol once – come back anytime.

By the end of this course, participants will have the knowledge and skills to conduct a wide variety of standard and quantitative fish habitat assessments common to Canada and North America.  These assessment types include: 

  • B.C.’s 1:20,000 Fish and Fish Habitat Inventory
  • B.C.’s Fish Habitat Assessment Procedure (FHAP)
  • Alberta’s QAES Fish Habitat Assessments
  • The ‘Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol (OSAP)’
  • Fish Passage/Stream Crossing Assessment(s)
  • American Fisheries Society (AFS) Fish Habitat Assessment standards and procedures

Note: Course content may vary by province or state of delivery. Please contact us for further information.

This course is the recommended prerequisite to attending any of NRTG’s Fish Habitat Restoration (FHR) courses; FHR – Field Techniques, Fish Habitat Restoration – Prescription Development or Fish Habitat Restoration – Instream Techniques.


Fantastic course; clear, concise, fun, and informative. Great learning environment.

-Nick de Brouwer, Biologist, Harrison Hot Springs, B.C.

“Fabulous instructor who made the course interesting and relevant. Practical field training was awesome.”

— Kendra Morgan, Biologist, Richmond, B.C.

“Al McNeil was fantastic! knowledgeable, helpful and enthusiastic. Course exceeded my expectations.”

— Noel Soogrim, Toronto, Ontario

“I liked Darren’s passion and understanding of the industry, nature of work, and knowledge level. His experience and knowledge are great benefits to taking this course, and now I feel capable and confident to conduct field work.”

— Marla Ives, Biologist, Fort St John, B.C.

Fabulous course! loads of great information and very nice and patient instructor.

-Kirsten Jorgensen, DFO Biologist, Vancouver, B.C.

“Amazing course and instructor! The heavy field component allows students to dive into the material and thoroughly understand the content.”

— Larissa Chin, DFO Biologist, Vancouver, B.C.

“NRTG has knowledgeable and experienced instructors that are eager to share their expertise to the benefit of course participants and industry. This is a great course, and I learned a ton that will be really helpful.”

— Andrew Martin, Biologist, Prince George, B.C.

“Great course and wonderful instructor.”

— Gwen Baker, Biologist, Fort St. John, B.C.


Upon successful completion, participants will be able to:   

  • Conduct a standard and advanced fish habitat assessment
  • Recognize fish habitat types and requirements by fish species and life stage
  • Quantify the quality and quantity of fish habitat by fish species and life stage
  • Collect and record standard fish habitat assessment data
  • Measure and assess fish passage/stream crossing structures to determine fish passage
  • Operate standard fish habitat field equipment
  • Conduct a quantitative stream pebble count
  • Identify and quantify fish habitat disturbance indicators
  • Develop field notes that describe and quantify fish habitat conditions

Who enrolls in the FHA – Level One course?

Course participants typically include; current fisheries field technicians and biologists, other environmental professionals requiring ‘fish and fish habitat’ training, resource workers, individuals new to the industry and graduates of other natural resource-related programs.  


There are no pre-requisites for this course. This course is the recommended pre-requisite to attending any of NRTG’s Fish Habitat Restoration (FHR) courses; FHR – Field Techniques, Fish Habitat Restoration – Prescription Development or Fish Habitat Restoration – Instream Techniques.

Personal Protective Equipment

Course participants are required to supply their own personal field gear: leak-free chestwaders with non-slip footwear (felt, cleat or rubber soled wading shoes or wader boots), field binder with waterproof paper, appropriate field clothing, bag lunch and refreshment each day.  

How do I Attend? 

Check our course Schedule page. Interested in bringing the FHA – Level One course to your community or organizations? If so, please contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

We offer this course beginning in February in coastal regions and March in interior regions throughout North America. Please refer to our Schedule page for course timing and locations.

This course includes online presentations and student-led field exercises. Our instructors will provide direction and support for all field exercises, and students should identify and scout 2-3 local streams (within 20 minutes from your location) in advance of the course start date.

Course participants are required to provide chestwaders, waterproof field notebook, as well as optional equipment items: clinometer, Eslon or other 30m measuring tape, and meter stick (1.2m wooden doweling, marked in centimeters).

You can purchase chestwaders from Canadian Tire, any flyfishing shop across Canada, Cabela’s, or industry suppliers such as Dynamic Aqua Supply (Surrey, BC), IRL Supplies (Prince George, BC), Winners Edge (Lillooet, BC), Surplus Herby’s (Williams Lake, Kamloops, Vernon BC), Forestry equipment suppliers across Canada, and other outdoor equipment outfitters.

First, always ensure your chestwaders do not leak! You can do this easily by holding a flashlight (or your phone) in your waders in a dark room. Beams of light coming out in small pinholes might indicate a small hole. Patch using Aqua seal or Shoe Goo.
Neoprene chestwaders are appropriate for spring, fall and winter conditions but may be too warm for summer field work. Nylon chestwaders and Gore-Tex ® or breathable chestwaders are excellent choices for most seasons, where crew members wear warm layers (e.g., fleece, polypropylene) underneath during colder field conditions.

Felt soles can offer stable footing in most types of stream substrates but may be poor choices when working in areas of extensive clay stream bottoms or snowy banks. Felt soles will provide poor traction on clay and snow will stick to and accumulate on felt-soled wading shoes. Wading shoes with cleats (aluminum or tungsten) will provide stable footing in a variety of substrates (gravels, cobbles, clay, large boulders) and are less likely to transfer invasive species from waterbody to waterbody.

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