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Why has this area been chosen?
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has identified an area of rich biodiversity within the Laurentian Channel as an Area of Interest for consideration as a Marine Protected Area. It contains the highest concentration of black dogfish in Canadian waters and is the only place where pupping occurs; it is an important spawning, nursery and feeding area for a variety of species including porbeagle shark, smooth skate, monkfish, pollock and white hake; and it is a critical migration corridor for marine mammals moving in and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Laurentian Channel also provides important overwintering habitat for cod and redfish stocks, a significant part of those species’ lifecycles.
What is the Laurentian Channel and how much of it is included in the Area of Interest?
The Laurentian Channel is a deepwater gully running more than 1,200 kilometres from the Tadoussac, past the Gaspé Peninsula and through the Gulf of St. Lawrence into the Atlantic. Nutrient rich salty waters originating in the Atlantic are brought in along this channel from the edge of the continental shelf, forming a deep water layer which is generally warmer than the surface layer. The whole of the Laurentian Channel is approximately 35,840 km2, however the Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area is approximately half this size, at 17,950 km2. Should a Marine Protected Area be established, it will likely encompass a portion of this area taking into consideration the conservation priorities of the Laurentian Channel.
How are Marine Protected Areas created? What is their purpose?
Marine Protected Areas are established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the Oceans Act to protect and conserve important fish and marine mammal habitats, endangered marine species, unique features and areas of high biological productivity or biodiversity. They have a critical role to play in the protection and conservation of Canada's rich and varied marine environments and contribute to the improved health, integrity and productivity of our oceans. By preserving our oceans, we are protecting the future of those who depend on them.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to establishing six new Marine Protected Areas across Canada. The Laurentian Channel was identified as an Area of Interest through a process involving scientific advice and extensive consultations with stakeholders. The identification of an Area of Interest signals the intention of the Department to engage with other governments, stakeholders, industry, Aboriginals, etc., towards establishing an area of ocean space that should be afforded additional conservation and protection measures through Marine Protected Area designation. An Area of Interest will undergo a detailed biophysical and socio-economic evaluation and comprehensive public consultations before a decision to formally designate a Marine Protected Area is made.There are currently two other Marine Protected Areas within Newfoundland and Labrador: Eastport, Bonavista Bay and Gilbert Bay, Labrador.