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Research Document - 2016/007

Offshore Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion

By M. King, D. Fenton, J. Aker, and A. Serdynska


Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) are areas of particularly high ecological or biological importance relative to other areas in a region. Considerable work has been done over the past decade to identify EBSAs in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion. The purpose of this report is to present and describe a revised list of EBSAs for the offshore component of this bioregion. A concise overview of available bioregional-scale ecological or biological data layers that have been compiled or created to help evaluate and identify offshore EBSAs is also presented. The information in this report was reviewed through a Regional Science Advisory Process hosted by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat in Halifax, Nova Scotia from February 18-20, 2014. The revised list of offshore EBSAs was created through the evaluation and refinement of 42 EBSAs identified through scientific expert opinion (SEO) in 2007. The first step in this process was to compile or develop data-layers relevant to the various EBSA criteria. Each of the original SEO EBSAs was then evaluated based on an overlay analysis with the EBSA data layers and a review of the literature to identify further evidence of their ecological and biological significance. Areas found to have insufficient evidence were removed from the process while those with sufficient evidence were included in the updated list of offshore EBSAs. Where necessary, the boundaries of the refined EBSAs were also updated. A concise description was developed for each of the updated EBSAs. The process yielded a total of 18 offshore EBSAs in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion, with 17 of those occurring on the Scotian Shelf or Scotian Slope and one in the deeper waters beyond the slope. Notable ecological and biological features were highlighted for each EBSA under the different Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) EBSA criteria. The updated list of EBSAs presented in this report will be considered in a broad range of coastal and oceans management and planning processes in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion.

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