An Area of Interest (AOI) in Darnley Bay of the western Canadian Arctic is being considered for designation as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) under the Oceans Act. The AOI was nominated based on the presence of two Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs). Under the Health of the Oceans Initiative, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science is required to provide advice in support of the identification and prioritization of MPAs following the selection of an AOI. This Research Document forms the basis of the Ecosystem Overview for the Darnley Bay AOI. Though the area is not well studied and is based largely on expert opinion, this overview synthesizes the limited ecological and biological information available (including available traditional ecological knowledge) for the Darnley Bay AOI and surrounding area. The report includes a summary of information and knowledge gaps and provides the technical basis for the science advice and information. Based on this analysis, four areas were identified for marine protection in the following priority: 1) Darnley Bay Nearshore Migration and Feeding Corridor to ensure the quality and quantity of nearshore habitat and estuaries, including overwintering channels and freshwater inputs, for Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus); 2) Cape Parry Offshore Marine Feeding Habitat to maintain the integrity of the marine environment offshore of Cape Parry for the protection of staging sea ducks and feeding seabirds and marine mammals; 3) Darnley Bay Offshore Ice-edge Habitat to maintain the integrity of the Amundsen Gulf polynya and ice-edge ecosystem offshore of Darnley Bay for the protection of biological productivity and feeding habitat; and 4) Kelp Beds to maintain the integrity of kelp bed communities in Argo and Wise bays and elsewhere in Darnley Bay. Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas), Arctic Cod (Boreogadus saida), Bearded Seals (Erignthus barbatus), Ivory Gulls (Pagophila eburnean) and Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) appear to play an important role in the Darnley Bay region and may benefit from protection of one or more of the priority areas. Since there is likely more detailed local knowledge for the area, local traditional ecological knowledge held by the local community of Paulatuk should be considered when further developing an MPA in the area.View complete PDF document
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