Research Document - 2013/117

A Monitoring Framework for the St. Anns Bank Area of Interest

By Trevor J. Kenchington

Abstract

Development of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) off Scatarie Island, Cape Breton, is in progress – the St. Anns Bank Area of Interest (AOI), having been announced during 2011. That Area extends from near-shore waters and the shallow crest of Scatarie Bank out to a portion of the deep floor of the Laurentian Channel. Effective, adaptive management of any MPA requires an extensive monitoring program to provide the information base for decision making. Such a program should be designed around the objectives of the MPA, the structures and functions of local ecosystems, anthropogenic pressures on those ecosystems, and the socio-economic benefits and costs of the MPA. Building on those foundations, this document sets out a recommended framework for the monitoring of a future MPA that may emerge off Scatarie Island, structured around 76 indicators. While data collection for some indicators would require surveys aboard Departmental research ships, others offer opportunities for collaborative monitoring work with local communities and institutes. Rationales for the selection of those indicators as well as an outline of the methodologies for their monitoring are provided, along with a proposed structure for program oversight and its continued development.

As a foundation for indicator selection, an initial account of the structures of the ecosystems in the AOI is offered, paying particular attention to its position astride both the Cape Breton Current and the major migration pathway, for fish, marine mammals and seabirds, into and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. However, much of the knowledge that should be critical to MPA planning and management has yet to be gathered, not least the details of the spatial distribution of benthic environments in the AOI. Hence, the account offered here can only be preliminary. Extensive baseline monitoring and research-oriented characterization studies are needed before every aspect of this framework could be developed further.

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