Research Document - 2013/066

Considerations for Marine Protected Area network planning on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia with a focus on the identification of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas

By Gromack, A., and Allard, K.

Abstract

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will lead Marine Protected Area (MPA) network planning in Canada’s 13 bioregions, including the Scotian Shelf Bioregion. The technical aspects of MPA network planning in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion will take place in three planning areas: the Offshore Scotian Shelf, the Bay of Fundy, and the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia. The ecological data available for the Atlantic Coast Planning Area are generally patchy in their distribution compared to other parts of the bioregion. As a result, different data considerations and methodologies for identifying Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) and incorporating habitat representation in MPA planning will be required in the Atlantic Coast Planning Area. This research document was presented as a working paper at the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Regional Advisory Process (RAP) on MPA Network Planning in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion on March 5-7, 2012. The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of available data sets that may be useful in identifying and evaluating EBSAs against a draft set of MPA network objectives for the Atlantic Coast Planning Area. Data sets that could be used for EBSA identification and subsequent MPA network planning are identified and grouped into the following categories: the Inshore Ecosystem Project, Lobster Data, Marine Algae Data, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Other Fish Data, and Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Services Key Marine Habitats for Migratory Birds Project. Data sets that are useful for incorporating representation into MPA network planning with some utility for EBSA identification are also highlighted. Finally, the identified data sets are evaluated in terms of readiness for use in MPA planning in the Atlantic Coast Planning Area. The authors recommended proceeding with coastal MPA network planning with data sets found to be “MPA network ready”. It is also recommended that MPA network planning proceed in the short-term but remain flexible to allow for the incorporation of new knowledge and data as they become available.

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