Musquash Estuary MPA

Note:

The maps, diagrams and coordinates on this website are provided for general information and are not to be used for fishing, navigation and other purposes. Please contact your regional DFO office for official coordinates.

Location

Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area (MPA) is located 20 km southwest of Saint John, New Brunswick. The MPA boundary is defined by the water level at low tide. Most of the intertidal area – the area exposed to air at low tide and underwater at high tide – is administered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and is referred to as the Administered Intertidal Area. DFO works to conserve and protect the habitats and species that thrive in this ecosystem.

The Musquash Estuary is open to the public to enjoy, but remember:

  • Weather, wind, waves, and tides can rapidly change;
  • Shorelines can be slippery;
  • Old marine vessels and structures may be unsteady; Shoals, debris, fishing equipment, and navigational aids may be hidden at high tide.

Musquash Estuary public access points and directions to get there

Awareness brochure

Ecosystem
Musquash Estuary MPA

An estuary is a partially-enclosed body of coastal water into which freshwater flows from rivers and streams, mixing with the saltwater from the ocean. Estuaries are considered one of the Earth's most productive ecosystems, hosting several habitat types that support a diverse range of wildlife. They are often surrounded by low-lying coastal grasslands, called salt marshes, which are frequently covered by the tide.

These salt marshes perform a variety of functions. They filter sediment and pollutants, buffer coastal lands from storm surges and floods, prevent erosion, and stabilize shorelines. In the Bay of Fundy, more than 85% of the original salt marshes have been altered by humans over the past 300 years.

Musquash is unique among Bay of Fundy estuaries due to its size, expansive salt marshes, and natural condition. It is the largest, ecologically-intact estuary in the Bay of Fundy, and exhibits an abundance of wildlife and commercial fisheries. The estuary's location, shape, and oceanographic characteristics support diverse habitat and high marine biological productivity.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to conserving and protecting the Musquash Estuary MPA and intertidal area and the species that thrive there. It is aided in its efforts by owners and managers of the surrounding land, including Ducks Unlimited Canada, Eastern Habitat Joint Venture, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Province of New Brunswick, and Government of Canada. The Conservation Council of New Brunswick, through its advocacy work, also contributes to the conservation and protection of the Musquash Estuary ecosystem.

Musquash Estuary MPA

Photo credit: Ron Garnett-AirScapes.ca

Management & Conservation

The Musquash Estuary is designated a Marine Protected Area (MPA) under Canada's Oceans Act.

Section 35 of the Act outlines criteria that a candidate MPA site must meet to be considered under the federal Marine Protected Areas Program. In summary, the criteria are to conserve and protect:

  1. commercial and non-commercial fishery resources, including marine mammals, and their habitats;
  2. endangered or threatened marine species, and their habitats;
  3. unique habitats;
  4. marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity; and
  5. any other marine resource or habitat as is necessary to fulfill the mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has the authority to designate an MPA. On the Minister's recommendation, the Governor in Council may put in place regulations to:

  • designate marine protected areas;
  • prescribe zoning of marine protected areas; and
  • prohibit certain activities within marine protected areas.

A Musquash Estuary MPA Management Plan guides management of the MPA and Administered Intertidal Area. The management plan provides details on:

  1. the purpose and scope;
  2. the legislative authority in the Musquash Estuary, the transfer of administration and control of lands to the Government of Canada from the Province of New Brunswick and the federal authority to manage the estuary;
  3. the background to the designation as an MPA;
  4. the management vision, guiding principles, conservation objectives and management priorities
  5. the Musquash Estuary MPA Regulations and approach for managing activities within the administered intertidal area under the Fisheries Act;
  6. and, the governance structure.

Conservation and protection of the ecosystem is the primary goal of management, and specific conservation objectives have been established.

The Musquash Estuary was designated an MPA because of the commercial and non-commercial fisheries, unique habitats, and areas of high biological diversity and biological productivity found there. These characteristics provide the foundation for conservation and protection objectives for the MPA and Administered Intertidal Area ecosystem.

The conservation objectives are to ensure no unacceptable reduction or human-caused modification in:

  • Productivity, so that harvested species remain healthy and abundant;
  • Biodiversity, so that the diversity of individual species, communities, and populations within the different ecotypes are maintained; and
  • Habitat, to safeguard the physical and chemical properties of the ecosystem by maintaining water and sediment quality.

The conservation objectives will be achieved by addressing management priorities and through the implementation of management actions outlined in the management plan.

The Musquash Estuary MPA Advisory Committee (MAC) facilitates dialogue between DFO and MPA stakeholders concerning management plan implementation (Terms of Reference for MAC Members). MAC members represent government, non-government organizations, industry, First Nations, and community groups with an interest in the MPA. They provide skills, knowledge, and experience related to the ecology, management, conservation, and general use of the MPA.

Musquash Estuary: A Management Plan for the Marine Protected Area and Administered Intertidal Area.

Evaluation and Reporting: A review of Musquash Estuary MPA management was recently conducted to measure DFO’s progress towards meeting the commitments laid out in the Musquash Estuary MPA management plan and other Oceans Act MPA program guidance and policies. The findings are being used to inform the review and revision of the Musquash Estuary MPA Management Plan.

Progress Report: A Progress Report is available that provides the management and research highlights since designation.

Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area regulations can be found on the Justice Laws website.

Musquash Estuary MPA
Activity Applications

In Marine Protected Areas established under the Oceans Act, it is generally prohibited to carry out any activity that disturbs, damages, destroys or removes any living marine organism or any part of its habitat or is likely to do so. Despite this, there are exceptions to the prohibitions. Activities that may be allowed to occur in the Marine Protected Area are listed under the ‘exception’ section of the Marine Protected Area regulations.

In addition, for most Marine Protected Areas, certain types of activities (e.g., scientific research and monitoring, habitat restoration, commercial marine tourism, and educational activities) may be allowed to occur within the MPA if a proponent submits an activity plan to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The conditions for approval are outlined in the MPA regulations.

Activity plan submission form for Musquash Estuary MPA

Public Access Points

Public Access Points

All Musquash Estuary access points can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway 1. Coming from Saint John, New Brunswick, follow the Trans Canada Highway 1 West. Coming from St. Stephen or St. Andrews, New Brunswick, follow the Trans Canada Highway 1 East. See this map for the location of areas described below.

Note:

Fisheries and Oceans Canada does not maintain these public access points. Some of these routes may not be drivable. Use them at your own risk.

Route into Musquash Estuary

Route into Musquash Estuary

Getting There

  • Take exit 112 (Coleson Cove) from Trans Canada Hwy 1
  • Travel south on King William Road.
  • Continue past the Coleson Cove Generating Station (on left) to the end.
  • There's a steep hill to the beach.

Activities

  • Launch a canoe/kayak (no trailer boat launch)
  • Access Musquash Head Lighthouse hiking trail

Getting There

  • Take exit 103 (Prince of Wales) from Trans Canada Hwy 1.
  • Travel south to stop sign.
  • Turn left and follow road south past sharp bend.
  • The wharf is just ahead down the hill.

Activities

  • Boating (using trailer boat launch) or canoe/kayak
  • Access Butler's Creek hiking trail

Getting There

  • Take exit 96 (Chance Harbour/Musquash) from Trans Canada Hwy 1.
  • Travel south on Musquash Road, stay right to old church.
  • Turn right on Gooseberry Cove Road and continue to end.

Activities

  • Activities: Launch a canoe/kayak (no trailer boat launch)

Getting There

  • Take exit 96 (Chance Harbour/Musquash) from Trans Canada Hwy 1.
  • Travel south on Musquash Road, staying right to old church.
  • Beyond the church, the road is impassable by vehicle.
  • Veer left when road divides.
  • Hiking access only

Activities

  • Following a portage, may be able to launch canoe/kayak (no trailer boat launch)

Getting There

  • Take exit 96 (Chance Harbour/Musquash) from Trans Canada Hwy 1.
  • Travel south on Musquash Road, staying right to old church.
  • Beyond the church, the road is impassable by vehicle.
  • Continue straight when road divides.
  • Hiking access only

Activities

  • Following a portage, may be able to launch canoe/kayak (no trailer boat launch)

Getting There

  • Getting there: Take exit 96 (Chance Harbour/Musquash) from Trans Canada Hwy 1.
  • Travel south on Musquash Road. At stop sign, turn left on Malcolm Meehan Road.
  • Walk from the fire hall (on left) to access point.
  • Hiking access only

Activities

  • Following a portage, may be able to launch canoe/kayak (no boat launch)

Getting There

  • Getting there: Take exit 96 (Chance Harbour/Musquash) from Trans Canada Hwy 1.
  • Travel north on Musquash Road.
  • Turn left at power station, then right onto Shipyard Road.
  • Continue to end.

Activities

  • At high tide, can launch canoe/kayak (no boat launch)
Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Tel: (902) 426-9919
Fax: (902) 426-2331
Email: Musquash@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
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