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2023-2024 Call for Proposals: Habitat Stewardship Program for Aquatic Species at Risk

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Under the Nature Legacy initiative, announced in Budget 2018, the Government of Canada is transforming its approach to species at risk conservation and recovery by shifting to ecosystem-based, multispecies initiatives. This approach includes providing funding towards the protection and recovery of aquatic and terrestrial species at risk.Footnote 1 Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is responsible for aquatic species at risk and supports recovery of these species through various programs, including the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP).

The HSP, established in 2000, provides funding for projects submitted by Canadians that contribute directly to the recovery of species at risk. To ensure the HSP is able to achieve its mandate to "contribute to the recovery of endangered, threatened, and other species at risk by engaging Canadians from all walks of life in conservation actions to benefit wildlife”, DFO routinely reviews the program to best address emerging priorities related to aquatic species at risk across Canada.

HSP has two platforms for funding:

This Call for Proposals applies only to aquatic species at risk projects. For information on funding for terrestrial species at risk, please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada.


Objective, expected results and national priorities

The objective of the HSP for Aquatic Species at Risk is to support and promote the conservation and recovery of Aquatic Species at Risk and their habitats by engaging Canadians in projects that will result in tangible and measurable conservation benefits.
Proposed projects must demonstrate how they align with the objective of the HSP. Further, the proposal must describe through its own objectives, activities and anticipated outcomes, how it will achieve one or more of the expected results:

The national priorities for the 2023-24 HSP are projects that focus on the implementation of:

Regional priorities

In addition to the national priorities, each region has identified specific priorities that support the national priorities. These include target areas, species and/or threats (Appendix 1). The majority of aquatic funds will go to projects that address at least one of these regional priorities.

For more information

Thank you for your interest in the recovery of species at risk. We wish you the best in your application!

Appendix 1: Regional priorities

Appendix 1: Regional priorities
Region Species Areas Threats
Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Wolffish Species (Northern, Spotted, Atlantic)
  • Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtle
  • Large Whale Species (Blue Whale, Fin Whale, North Atlantic Right Whale)
  • Atlantic Salmon (South Newfoundland population)
  • American Eel
  • Fisheries Interactions (i.e. bycatch, entanglements)
  • Vessel Interactions (i.e. ship strikes, acoustic disturbances)
  • Pollution and Pathogens
  • Habitat Alteration
  • Migration Barriers
  • Atlantic Salmon (Inner Bay of Fundy population)
  • Atlantic Whitefish
  • SARA-listed Sea Turtle Species
  • North Atlantic Right Whale
  • Lake Utopia Rainbow Smelt
  • Habitat alteration and degradation
  • Invasive and introduced species
  • Fishery interactions (includes entanglement and bycatch)
  • Interactions with vessels and vehicles
  • Acoustic disturbance
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Brook Floater
  • Wolffish species
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle
  • Whale species (North Atlantic Right Whale, Blue Whale, Fin Whale)
  • Interactions with Vessels and Vehicles
  • Acoustic Disturbances
  • Fishery Interactions: Bycatch and Entanglement
  • Habitat Alteration and Degradation
  • Invasive and Introduced Species
  • St. Lawrence whales at risk (Beluga whale, St. Lawrence Estuary population, Blue whale, Atlantic population, North Atlantic right whale, Atlantic fin whale and Northwest Atlantic harbour porpoise)
  • All freshwater fishes of interest to the Quebec Recovery Team “l'équipe de rétablissement des cyprins et petits percidés du Québec” (Sand Darter, Quebec population, Northern Sunfish, Cutlip Minnow, Channel Darter, Bridle Shiner, Grass Pickerel, Northern Brook Lamprey and Silver Lamprey)
  • Copper Redhorse
  • Sharks and Skates (Atlantic White Shark, Atlantic Blue Shark, Atlantic Spiny Dogfish, Channel Darter, Atlantic Basking Shark, Thorny Skate, and Smooth Skate, Laurentian-Scotian population)
  • St. Lawrence diadromous species (Atlantic salmon and American eel)
  • Anthropogenic disturbance associated with commercial shipping, whale watching and touring, or recreational boating (e.g., approach, noise, collision, wake, spill)
  • Bycatch and recreational and commercial fishing pressures
  • Habitat destruction and degradation (e.g., destruction of seagrass beds, bank artificialization, wave action, soil compaction or erosion, alteration of shorelines and riparian buffers, water contamination)
  • Aquatic invasive species affecting aquatic species at risk and their habitat

Ontario and Prairie


  • Redside Dace
  • Pugnose Shiner
  • Pugnose Minnow
  • Black Redhorse
  • SARA-listed Freshwater Mussels
  • Lake St. Clair & contributing watersheds
  • Lake Erie & contributing watersheds
  • Lake Ontario & contributing watersheds
  • Lake Huron & contributing watersheds
  • Lakes & contributing watersheds of Upper (western) St. Lawrence River
  • Sediment/nutrient, contaminant loading
  • Habitat destruction/ alteration
  • Altered flows, water levels, or coastal process
  • Barriers to fish passage
  • Recreational impacts on aquatic SAR

Ontario and Prairie

(Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta)

  • Bigmouth Buffalo
  • Lake Sturgeon
  • Southern Prairie Species (Western Silvery Minnow, Rocky Mountain Sculpin, Plains Sucker)
  • Native Trout (Athabasca Rainbow, Westslope Cutthroat, Bull)
  • Mapleleaf
  • Peace/Slave River Basin
  • North and South Saskatchewan River basin
  • Southern Prairie Region (Milk River, St. Mary River, Qu’Appelle River)
  • Winnipeg/Red/Assiniboine River Basin
  • East Slopes Rocky Mountains
  • Habitat loss and degradation
  • Impacts from introduced/non-introduced species
  • Disease and pathogens
  • Restrictions to fish passage
  • Barriers to movement


(Northwest Territories and Nunavut)

  • Dolly Varden (Western Arctic)
  • Beluga (Cumberland Sound)
  • Bowhead Whale (Eastern Arctic/West Greenland)
  • Walrus
  • Beluga (Hudson Bay)
  • Foxe Basin
  • Hudson Bay/Hudson Strait
  • Mackenzie River tributaries/Peel River System
  • Cumberland Sound
  • All Nunavut waters
  • Unsustainable harvest
  • Unknown effects of predators
  • Lack of information on isolated Dolly Varden populations
  • Struck and loss of marine mammals
  • Impacts from introduced/non-introduced species
  • Cetaceans assessed as at risk by COSEWIC
  • White Sturgeon
  • Northern Abalone
  • Endemic freshwater species assessed as at risk by COSEWIC
  • Sharks assessed as at risk by COSEWIC
All aquatic habitat (marine and freshwater) within DFO Pacific Region
  • Fisheries interactions (including incidental/bycatch, entanglements, illegal harvest, prey availability)
  • Physical and acoustic disturbance (vessel based)
  • Habitat degradation and fragmentation (aquatic and riparian)
  • Water quality, including contaminants
  • Aquatic invasive species

Appendix 2: Regional coordinators


Kristie Pearce
Telephone: 431-334-7210


Jackie Walker
Telephone: 506-377-3263


Lisa Paon
Telephone: 902-483-5495

Newfoundland and Labrador

Lynette Mulley
Telephone: 709-330-7993

Ontario and Prairie

Kristie Pearce
Telephone: 431-334-7210


Jennalee Domke
Telephone: 604-389-8427


Susanne Mark
Telephone: 1-877-722-4828
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