Coral and Sponge Conservation Measures in the Maritimes

Since 2002, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has implemented conservation measures under both the Fisheries Act and the Oceans Act to protect coral and sponge habitats. These areas were identified and designed with the assistance of a number of scientists and stakeholders.

In addition to the areas described below, conservation measures in other coral and sponge habitats may be required as a result of research. Under the Coral Conservation Plan, there is an ongoing commitment to outreach, research and surveillance activities for these areas.

Note:

Charts, diagrams and contact information on this website are provided for information purposes only and should not be used for fishing, navigation or other purposes. Please refer to the MPA Regulations or contact your regional Fisheries and Oceans Canada office for official coordinates.

Jordan Basin Conservation Area
Jordan Basin Conservation Area
Jordan Basin Conservation Area

Several scientific surveys since 2005 identified undersea features of conservation interest in the eastern portion of Jordan Basin. The closure captures two prominent bedrock ridges, including an outcrop called the “Rock Garden”. These features contain high densities of seacorn corals (Primnoa resedaeformis) and other sensitive filter feeding invertebrate communities. These structural habitats are important to other species such as groundfish, some of which are commercially harvested.

In 2016, DFO established a 49 square kilometres conservation area in the eastern portion of Jordan Basin. The conservation area is closed to all bottom-contact fishing activity.

Point Latitude Longitude
1 43°20’30” N 67°0’0” W
2 43°17’30” N 67°0’0” W
3 43°15’30” N 67°6’0” W
4 43°17’30” N 67°6’0” W
5 43°20’30” N 67°3’0” W
Corsair and Georges Canyons Conservation Area
Corsair and Georges Canyons Conservation Area
Corsair and Georges Canyons Conservation Area

These submarine, or undersea, canyons are located south of Georges Bank, near the Canadian-United States international border. These are large, steep sided and deep (over 2000 metres) valleys that cut into the seabed. These canyons are part of a chain found along the continental slope of eastern North America. A science survey in 2014 conducted by Dalhousie University and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in collaboration with DFO Science documented high densities of gorgonian corals, such as “bubblegum” coral (Paragorgia arborea), and wide variety of other coral species, clinging to the walls of the canyon. Deep sea environments also contain many other unique, long-lived and vulnerable deep sea species. Further exploration of the deep-sea communities in this area is planned over the next few years.

In 2016, DFO established the Corsair and Georges Canyons Conservation Area, 9,106 square kilometres in size. All bottom contact fishing is restricted in the closure; with the exception of two small “limited fishing” zones located next to Georges Canyon which will allow red crab fishing. Continued monitoring and future scientific surveys will assist DFO in evaluating the ongoing suitability of red crab fishing in these areas.

Point Latitude Longitude
1 41° 9' 59.366" N 66° 17' 41.547" W
2 41° 11' 45.000" N 66° 16' 45.000" W
3 41° 12' 15.000" N 66° 16' 15.000" W
4 41° 12' 15.000" N 66° 15' 0.000" W
5 41° 12' 45.000" N 66° 14' 15.000" W
6 41° 14' 0.000" N 66° 14' 30.000" W
7 41° 15' 0.000" N 66° 14' 30.000" W
8 41° 15' 30.000" N 66° 15' 0.000" W
9 41° 15' 30.000" N 66° 15' 30.000" W
10 41° 16' 0.000" N 66° 15' 30.000" W
11 41° 16' 45.000" N 66° 16' 0.000" W
12 41° 16' 45.000" N 66° 14' 0.000" W
13 41° 16' 45.000" N 66° 13' 30.000" W
14 41° 16' 30.000" N 66° 12' 30.000" W
15 41° 17' 30.000" N 66° 11' 15.000" W
16 41° 17' 45.000" N 66° 10' 15.000" W
17 41° 18' 7.500" N 66° 10' 0.000" W
18 41° 18' 30.000" N 66° 9' 45.000" W
19 41° 18' 45.000" N 66° 10' 0.000" W
20 41° 19' 15.000" N 66° 10' 0.000" W
21 41° 19' 45.000" N 66° 10' 15.000" W
22 41° 20' 0.000" N 66° 10' 15.000" W
23 41° 20' 30.000" N 66° 10' 45.000" W
24 41° 20' 45.000" N 66° 10' 30.000" W
25 41° 21' 15.000" N 66° 10' 45.000" W
26 41° 21' 30.000" N 66° 10' 45.000" W
27 41° 21' 45.000" N 66° 11' 0.000" W
28 41° 22' 30.000" N 66° 11' 0.000" W
29 41° 23' 15.000" N 66° 11' 45.000" W
30 41° 23' 30.000" N 66° 12' 30.000" W
31 41° 24' 0.000" N 66° 13' 30.000" W
32 41° 24' 30.000" N 66° 13' 30.000" W
33 41° 24' 30.000" N 66° 12' 30.000" W
34 41° 24' 15.000" N 66° 12' 0.000" W
35 41° 24' 15.000" N 66° 11' 30.000" W
36 41° 24' 0.000" N 66° 11' 0.000" W
37 41° 23' 15.000" N 66° 10' 15.000" W
38 41° 22' 30.000" N 66° 9' 0.000" W
39 41° 22' 0.000" N 66° 8' 45.000" W
40 41° 22' 0.000" N 66° 8' 15.000" W
41 41° 21' 30.000" N 66° 8' 15.000" W
42 41° 21' 30.000" N 66° 7' 45.000" W
43 41° 21' 0.000" N 66° 7' 45.000" W
44 41° 20' 45.000" N 66° 7' 15.000" W
45 41° 21' 0.000" N 66° 6' 15.000" W
46 41° 21' 37.500" N 66° 5' 15.000" W
47 41° 21' 15.000" N 66° 4' 0.000" W
48 40° 11' 9.213" N 64° 22' 2.502" W
49 40° 3' 1.741" N 65° 22' 0.138" W
50 41° 8' 55.473" N 66° 16' 49.357" W
51 41° 9' 26.775" N 66° 16' 9.740" W
52 41° 11' 30.000" N 66° 15' 45.000" W
53 41° 12' 22.500" N 66° 13' 15.000" W
54 41° 13' 7.500" N 66° 12' 37.500" W
55 41° 13' 45.000" N 66° 12' 37.500" W
56 41° 14' 45.000" N 66° 13' 45.000" W
57 41° 15' 15.000" N 66° 13' 45.000" W
58 41° 15' 30.000" N 66° 14' 15.000" W
59 41° 16' 15.000" N 66° 13' 45.000" W
60 41° 16' 15.000" N 66° 13' 15.000" W
61 41° 16' 0.000" N 66° 13' 15.000" W
62 41° 16' 0.000" N 66° 11' 30.000" W
63 41° 17' 15.000" N 66° 10' 0.000" W
Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area
Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area as described in table below
Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area (4X, 5ZE)

The Northeast Channel, off southwestern Nova Scotia, has been a focus of coral conservation efforts in the region since the late 1990s. In June 2002, DFO established a 424-square-kilometre Coral Conservation Area in a portion of the Northeast Channel (parts of NAFO Divisions 5ZE and 4X), with the objective of protecting high densities of intact octocorals (Paragoria arborea, bubblegum coral and Primnoa resedaeformis, seacorn coral). The area selected was based on results from 2000 and 2001 visual surveys by DFO and Dalhousie University. There were some signs of fishing impacts on corals, with broken live corals, tilted corals, and scattered skeletons.

The conservation area is divided into two zones:

  1. Restricted bottom fisheries zone - about 90 percent of the area is closed to all bottom fishing gear used for groundfish or invertebrate fisheries (e.g., longline, otter trawl, gillnet, trap). The highest density of corals, as observed in scientific surveys, is found in this zone.
  2. Limited bottom fisheries zone - about 10 percent of the area is open to authorized fishing activities. At the present time, the area is open only to longline gear for groundfish (with an At-sea Observer) and is closed to all other bottom fishing gear.
Restricted Bottom Fisheries Zone 4X
Point Latitude Longitude
1 42° 04′ N 65° 44′ W
2 42° 07′ N 65° 38′ W
3 41° 57′ N 65° 26′ W
4 41° 50′ N 65° 34′ W
5 41° 57′ 18″ N 65° 42′ W
8 42° 00′ 30″ N 65° 42′ W
7 42° 00′ 30″ N 65° 40′ 30″ W
Limited Bottom Fisheries Zone Zone 5ZE
Point Latitude Longitude
1 42° 04′ N 65° 44′ W
6 42° 00′ N 65° 45′ W
5 41° 57′ 18″ N 65° 42′ W
8 42° 00′ 30″ N 65° 42′ W
7 42° 00′ 30″ N 65° 40′ 30″ W
Lophelia Coral Conservation Area
Lophelia Channel Coral Conservation Area as described in table below
Lophelia Coral Conservation Area (4VS)

In September 2003, DFO scientists observed mounds of the reef building coral Lophelia pertusa (spider hazards) at the Stone Fence, southeast of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This area is the only known location with living Lophelia pertusa, colonies on Canada's Atlantic coast. The corals and nearby seabed show signs of extensive damage from fishing gear. The 15-square kilometre Lophelia Coral Conservation Area was put in place in June 2004 and closed a small area surrounding the entire reef to all bottom fisheries. The objective is to protect the reef complex from further damage and allow for recovery, which may take decades.

Restricted Bottom Fisheries Zone
Point Latitude Longitude
1 44° 29′ 30″ N 57° 12′ 30″ W
2 44° 29′ 30″ N 57° 10′ 00″ W
3 44° 27′ 30″ N 57° 09′ 00″ W
4 44° 27′ 30″ N 57° 12′ 30″ W
The Gully Marine Protected Area

The Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA) was designated by regulation in May 2004 under Canada’s Oceans Act. One of the objectives of the MPA is to protect the high diversity of coral species found there. Corals are present in many parts of the canyon. The distribution and habitat of most species corresponds to Zones 1 and 2 of the MPA (approx. 1900 square kilometres). The Gully Management Plan contains more information on how activities in the area are managed.

Sponge Conservation Areas
Areas closed under the Fisheries Act to bottom-contact fishing - described in table below
Areas closed under the Fisheries Act to bottom-contact fishing

In 2010, a national advisory process on the occurrence, susceptibility to fishing, and ecological function of corals, sponges, and hydrothermal vents in Canadian waters (CSAS SAR - 2010/041) identified globally unique concentrations of Vazella pourtalesi, a rare, structure-forming species of glass sponge, in an 8,000km² area on the Scotian Shelf. Two areas of high densities of the sponge, commonly known as “Russian Hat”, were assessed as being at high risk from fishing impacts. As a result, two areas, a 62km² area on the eastern edge of Sambro Bank and a 197km² area between the southwest and northeast portions of Emerald Basin have been closed under the Fisheries Act to bottom-contact fishing.

Areas closed under the Fisheries Act to bottom-contact fishing - Sambro Bank
Point Latitude Longitude
1 43° 56′ 00″ N 63° 07′ 00″ W
2 43° 56′ 00″ N 63° 03′ 00″ W
3 43° 54′ 00″ N 63° 00′ 00″ W
4 43° 50′ 00″ N 63° 07′ 00″ W
Areas closed under the Fisheries Act to bottom-contact fishing - Emerald Basin
Point Latitude Longitude
1 44° 20′ 00″ N 62° 40′ 00″ O
2 44° 20′ 00″ N 62° 35′ 30″ O
3 44° 15′ 00″ N 62° 32′ 00″ O
4 44° 09′ 00″ N 62° 32′ 00″ O
5 44° 09′ 00″ N 62° 40′ 00″ O
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