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Research Document - 2010/094

Information in Support of Indicator Selection for Monitoring the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (TNMPA)

By L. Loseto, T. Wazny, H. Cleator, B. Ayles, D. Cobb, L. Harwood, C. Michel, O. Nielsen, J. Paulic, L. Postma, P. Ramlal, J. Reist, P. Richard, P.S. Ross, S. Solomon, W. Walkusz, L. Weilgart and B. Williams

Abstract

The Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area (TNMPA) consists of three sub-areas at the edge of the Mackenzie River Delta, within the Beaufort Sea Large Ocean Management Area. The conservation objective of the TNMPA is to conserve and protect Beluga Whales (Delphinapterus leucas) and other marine species (anadromous fishes, waterfowl and seabirds), their habitats and their supporting ecosystem. In support of the Health of the Oceans Initiative, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science is required to deliver scientifically defensible indicators, protocols and strategies for monitoring the conservation objective for established Marine Protected Areas. In Central and Arctic Region, the DFO Science sector has been asked to provide advice on indicators and protocols for monitoring the TNMPA to determine if it is meeting the conservation objective. An analysis was conducted of candidate monitoring indicators. Given the broad scope of the TNMPA conservation objective, a hierarchal framework was developed according to six main categories: ecosystem structure, ecosystem function, population structure of key species, health of key species, physical and chemical environment and physical disturbance. Eighty-two indicators were identified within the framework. Some higher-trophic level species that use the TNMPA, especially belugas, have a wide distribution and spend limited time within the MPA each year, thus some indicators that can be used to monitor at a spatial scale larger than the TNMPA are recommended. A suite of indicators, rather than one or two, is also recommended for monitoring to provide a better understanding of how, when and why key species use, and processes operate in, the TNMPA. Indicators related to threats that cannot be managed (e.g., climate change), as well as those that can (e.g., noise resulting from anthropogenic disturbance), are recommended to provide a more complete picture of how local and global stressors impact or drive ecosystem processes both in- and outside the TNMPA. Indicators considered the highest priority for the TNMPA are related to (1) the ongoing Hendrickson Island Beluga Study, (2) a proposed community-based fish sampling program, (3) the physical and chemical environment and (4) anthropogenic noise. Given the important influence of adjacent ecosystems, it is recommended that monitoring activities within the TNMPA be integrated with similar activities in the Beaufort Sea Large Ocean Management Area and the Mackenzie River. Indicators that would monitor conditions in the TNMPA during the ice-covered season were not fully considered. Monitoring protocols can be developed once a suite of indicators is finalized.

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