Eastern Shore Islands Area of Interest (AOI)

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At-A-Glance
Eastern Shore Islands AOI

Eastern Shore Islands AOI

Location

The Eastern Shore Islands AOI includes the nearshore waters surrounding the dense archipelago on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. The site stretches from Clam Bay near Jeddore Harbour to Barren Island near Liscomb Point and extends approximately 25 km from mainland in the Scotian Shelf bioregion.

Approximate Size (km2)

2,000 km2

Approximate % of Canada’s ocean territory

0.03%

Date identified

February, 2018

Proposed Overarching Goal

To conserve and protect the ecological integrity of the area, including biodiversity, productivity, ecosystem components, and special natural features.

Environmental Context

This highly natural area includes rich beds of eelgrass, kelp, and salt marsh that provide important habitat for many marine species, including commercial species that use these habitats as juveniles. Estuaries associated with several rivers that drain into this site are considered important habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon. The dense archipelago of hundreds of islands has been identified as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) that provides important nesting and foraging ground for many colonial seabirds and shorebirds. Many of the islands are protected through provincial and private conservation efforts, including current efforts by the Nova Scotia Nature Trust’s “100 Wild Islands Legacy Campaign.”

Ecological Importance

Eastern Shore Islands is a highly natural area encompassing a dense archipelago of hundreds of islands that is regionally unique in size and density. The area includes rich beds of eelgrass, kelp, and salt marsh that provide important habitat for many marine species. Estuaries associated with several rivers that drain into this site are considered important habitat for Atlantic salmon. The archipelago also provides important nesting and foraging ground for many colonial seabirds and shorebirds.

Key ecological features include:

  • Regionally unique island archipelago
  • Highly natural area
  • Significant eelgrass, kelp, and saltmarsh areas
  • Juvenile/nursery area for haddock, Atlantic cod (Endangered – COSEWIC), and hake
  • Important habitat for Atlantic salmon (Endangered – COSEWIC)
  • Historic groundfish spawning areas (haddock, pollock, cod, and hake)
  • Spawning area for Atlantic herring
  • Important foraging area for various birds including herons, cormorants, loons and grebes, ducks [including Harlequin duck (Special Concern – SARA)] gulls, terns [including Roseate tern (Endangered – SARA)], and shorebirds such as the purple sandpiper
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye (Special Concern – SARA) are known to occur in the area
Phoenix, Gerard and Stony Islands. Photo credit: Nick Hawkins.

Phoenix, Gerard and Stony Islands. Photo credit: Nick Hawkins.

American sandlance (Ammodytes americanus). Photo credit: Nick Hawkins.

American sandlance (Ammodytes americanus). Photo credit: Nick Hawkins.

Key Objectives and Approach

A proposed overarching goal for the Eastern Shore Islands is to conserve and protect the ecological integrity of the area, including the biodiversity, productivity, ecosystem components, and special natural features of the Area.

Proposed conservation priorities for the Eastern Shore Islands are:

  • High naturalness
  • Unique coastal and marine habitat associated with the regionally unique island archipelago
  • Significant concentrations of kelp beds, eelgrass, and salt marsh
  • Areas used by juvenile haddock, Atlantic cod (Endangered – COSEWIC), and hake
  • Spawning area for Atlantic herring
  • Important habitat for Atlantic salmon (Southern Uplands population; Endangered – COSEWIC)
  • Important foraging area for herons and sea ducks (scoters and eiders)
  • Significant foraging area for harlequin duck (Special Concern – SARA), purple sandpiper, cormorants, gulls, and terns [including roseate tern (Endangered – SARA)]

The selection of an Area of Interest marks the beginning of the Marine Protected Area establishment process, led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. An important first step in designating a Marine Protected Area is to initiate consultation mechanisms, including the establishment of an advisory committee, to help capture input from First Nations and Indigenous groups, other government partners, and stakeholders including industry and the local community. The process also includes the collection and analysis of available ecological and socio-economic data and the completion of a risk assessment. The information gathered through consultation, data collection and analysis will inform the Area’s conservation objectives, along with its boundary and zones, and will help determine the management measures and associated regulations required for the future Marine Protected Area.

For more information about the Eastern Shore Islands MPA establishment process, please contact:

Oceans and Coastal Management Division
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Maritimes Region)
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
P.O. Box 1006
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 4A2
Tel:  (902) 426-9919
Fax:  (902) 426-2331
Email:  MaritimesMPAs@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) and eelgrass bed (Zostera marina). Photo credit: Nick Hawkins.

Lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) and eelgrass bed (Zostera marina). Photo credit: Nick Hawkins.

American lobster (Homarus americanus). Photo credit: Nick Hawkins.

American lobster (Homarus americanus). Photo credit: Nick Hawkins.

Research and Publications
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