Science Advisory Report 2012/034
Conservation Priorities, Objectives, and Ecosystem Assessment Approach for the St. Anns Bank Area of Interest (AOI)
- Conservation priorities, including representative, important, and sensitive habitats or features; biodiversity hotspots; depleted species; and important functional groups were identified for the St Anns Bank Area of Interest.
- Based on the conservation priorities, the following Conservation Objectives were proposed. It is expected that these will be reviewed and refined with stakeholders, and will depend on the final boundaries of the Marine Protected Area (MPA), should one be designated.
- Conserve, protect and, where appropriate, restore the habitats of benthic, demersal, and pelagic species occurring in the St Anns Bank MPA, including the physical, chemical, geological, and biological properties and processes of those habitats, in both the water column and the seabed. Specifically,
- Conserve, protect, and, where appropriate, restore the identified habitat types (i.e., Inshore Bank, Shelf, and Slope/Channel) in the St Anns Bank MPA as representative examples of Eastern Scotian Shelf habitats.
- In addition, if not protected as part of the representative habitats above, ensure that distinctive features are not altered or disrupted by human activities to the extent that they no longer have the characteristics that triggered their identification as conservation priorities within the St Anns Bank MPA.
- Protect the important habitat of priority species.
- Protect the structural habitat provided by the identified sea pen and sponge concentrations.
- Conserve, protect, and, where appropriate, restore biodiversity in the St Anns Bank MPA, including diversity at the community, species, population, and genetic levels, so as to restore and maintain the structure and resilience of the ecosystems in the MPA. Specifically,
- Support the survival and recovery of depleted species.
- Conserve, and protect a portion of, the identified area of high fish diversity (i.e., the Slope).
- Conserve, protect, and, where appropriate, enhance the productivity of the ecosystems in the St Anns Bank MPA across all trophic levels, including the key trophic groups and the services they provide, so that they are able to fulfill their ecological role within the ecosystem.
- No consensus was reached on the assessment approach, but some suggestions were provided on a way forward, including simplification of the assessment methodology, focus on ecosystem attributes and functional groups (i.e., higher order objectives) rather than on specific species, and validation of the assessment methodology with a small group to build confidence in the reproducibility of the results prior to completion of the assessment.
This Science Advisory Report is from a Regional Science Advisory Process of January 25-26, 2012, to Review the Assessment Report and Proposed Conservation Objectives for the St Anns Bank Area of Interest (AOI), Maritimes Region. Additional publications from this process will be posted as they become available on the DFO Science Advisory Schedule.
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