CalFish FAQ

A: CalFish is a multi-agency cooperative program designed to gather, maintain and disseminate anadromous fish and aquatic habitat data, and data standards. CalFish provides access to a wide variety of data including life history and species accounts, population trends, habitat data, barrier data, distribution information, and hydrography data, and enables the visualization of the spatial distribution of these datasets.

CalFish centralizes access to California fisheries data and serves as both data publisher and data clearinghouse, providing access to original data and links to sites with related fish and aquatic habitat information.

A: CalFish provides direct access to many different types of data relating to anadromous fish and aquatic habitat including: population, species distributions, species recovery, habitat monitoring, habitat restoration, migration barrier, instream habitat quality, and hatcheries.

Users can view data via two basic methods: querying database tables directly or querying the data geographically. The geographical queries are made possible with an interactive on-line mapping system. The on-line mapping system also provides access to a broad array of framework data (political boundaries, hydrography, quad maps, and many more) that make the spatial data easier to analyze and understand. Because the tabular and geographical databases are linked, users can move easily between the two systems.

A: Signatories of the CalFish Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) are: California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), California Department of Water Resources (DWR), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), California Coastal Conservancy (CCC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA NMFS) and Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC). Additional CalFish participants include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Forest Service (FS), and the Ocean Protection Council (OPC).

Agencies provide CalFish data relating to fish and aquatic habitat in California streams including: species abundance and population trends, historic and current ranges and distributions, listing status and critical habitat designation, population recovery, monitoring, habitat restoration, migration barrier, habitat quality, hatcheries, etc. In addition agencies participate in periodic planning and strategy meetings for the further development of CalFish.

A: The primary focus of the CalFish website is to provide access to data and maps related to fisheries in California:

Anadromous Fish Abundance (Trends)

Anadromous Fish Distribution

Migration Barriers

Restoration Projects

In-stream Habitat

Data available:

Geographic: An interactive map viewer.

Download: Save shapefiles to your computer to use in your own GIS software.

A: For a summary of CalFish data additions or updates please refer to the Data Tracking report. This report documents updates to existing data or additions of new data that have taken place on the CalFish site since October 2011 in descending order. This report will be updated whenever a data update or addition is made. Note: Date Added or Updated represents the date the dataset was added to CalFish and is likely not equivalent to the original publication date for the data. Please check layer metadata for the time period the dataset represents and its original publication date.

A: You can start by reviewing the CalFish Bookmarks to see if a bookmark exists to provide data to help answer your question of interest. CalFish Bookmarks are links to instances of the CalFish Map Viewer preloaded with specific collections of data grouped to offer information to help answer common fisheries restoration related questions. The bookmarks load at a statewide extent but can be zoomed into a location of interest.

A: CalFish Bookmarks are links to instances of the CalFish map viewer preloaded with specific collections of data grouped to offer information to help answer common fisheries restoration related questions. The bookmarks load at a statewide extent but can be zoomed into a location of interest.

A: Suggested edits or new barrier records for the Fish Passage Assessment database can be submitted using the PAD data review and new barrier mapping application.

Edits to other data should be submitted to the individual responsible for managing the dataset on CalFish. Contact information is available in the dataset metadata.

A: Each CalFish Program Dataset has a contact person who can provide and receive information. The contact details are listed in the metadata or on the project’s page. General questions or comments related to the CalFish web site can be sent to the CalFish webmaster using the email utility built into the Contact Us page.

A: While CalFish does not provide this information directly, links to California sport and commercial fishing regulations can be found in the Fishing Regulations section of the Fisheries Management tab.

A: The metadata of a dataset indicates when the dataset was last updated. The frequency of data updates varies by each dataset and is a responsibility of the dataset administrator. The CalFish Program Datasets must conform to a data quality standard that includes dataset documentation (metadata), and the dataset metadata files specify when the dataset was last updated. 

A: Datasets must be approved for posting on the CalFish website by the CalFish Steering Committee. For a dataset to be included in the CalFish map viewer, the data must be standardized to meet the BIOS data quality protocol .

Data that do not meet the BIOS data standards will not be included in the CalFish map viewer but can be made available through the Programs & Data section of CalFish.

To add your own data set to this archive, find out how to become a Contributor

A: Yes but note that data provided on the CalFish website vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is your responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. It is highly recommended that you review the metadata prior interpreting these data.

A: When citing CalFish data layers, the following minimal information should be included: the Title (Name) of the data layer, the Originator (or contact of the layer), the Publication Date of the layer, where the layer was accessed from (CalFish) and when the layer was accessed.

The Title, Originator, and Publication Date can all be found in the metadata for the data layer. See metadata FAQ for details on viewing metadata. Originator will be listed in the Publication section of the metadata, if one exists. If there isn't an Originator, use the Primary Person listed in the Point of Contact section.

A: The site map can be accessed from any page of the CalFish website and can be found at the bottom of each page.

A: CalFish tutorials can be found in the CalFish Tutorials section of the About CalFish tab.
Tutorials provided include:

Map Viewer: This self-guided tutorial includes sample exercises that guide you through the main features of the map viewer. In addition, the help button in the map viewer (top right corner) opens an “IMAPS Help” menu that lists all the tools available in the map viewer and their functions. Within the “IMAPS Help” menu is a “More Help…” button that if clicked opens an additional map viewer tutorial.

PAD Review Application: Provides detailed instructions that will help you perform online review and editing of the Passage Assessment Database.

A: Downloads are available on the Data Access tabs of the individual Programs & Data pages which can be found in the main CalFish menu.  In addition, all downloadable datasets can be found using the Data Explorer tool.  The Data Explorer tool can be found by clicking on 'Data Explorer' under the Quick Finder, or by clicking on the 'Explore Data' image on the CalFish home page under 'Welcome to CalFish'.  These downloads are usually large compressed files, and in a few instances a link is provided to a different website that hosts the data.

A: From the BIOS 5 Map Viewer, click on the metadata button to the right of a layer name in the layers tab of the Table of Contents. A layer does not have to be selected as the active layer to view its metadata.

Metadata for the downloadable datasets on CalFish can also be viewed using the view metadata button ("i" image  ) associated with each dataset listed on the Data Access tabs of individual 'Programs & Data' pages. Once geographic data are downloaded, the metadata can be viewed using esri’s ArcCatalog software.