Science Advisory Report 2017/007
Delineation of Significant Areas of Coldwater Corals and Sponge-Dominated Communities in Canada's Atlantic and Eastern Arctic Marine Waters and their Overlap with Fishing Activity
- For the purpose of this analysis, a Significant Benthic Area is a regional habitat that contains sponges (Porifera), large and small gorgonian corals (Alcyonacea, formerly classed as Gorgonacea) and/or sea pens (Pennatulacea) as a dominant and defining feature.
- A Sensitive Benthic Area is a Significant Benthic Area that is vulnerable to a proposed or ongoing fishing activity. For the purpose of this analysis, candidate Sensitive Benthic Areas were identified based on the co-occurrence of fishing effort with a Significant Benthic Area. Vulnerability is determined based on the level of harm that the fishing activity may have on the benthic area by degrading ecosystem functions or impairing productivity and is not addressed herein.
- The study area for this analysis is the entirety of Atlantic Canada and Eastern Arctic marine waters, which corresponds to five major Canadian biogeographic units: the Scotian Shelf, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves, Eastern Arctic, and Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay in the Hudson Bay Complex.
- Kernel Density Estimation (KDE), Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) and observations of the taxa were used to delineate Significant Benthic Areas for each of these taxa. Within each biogeographic unit, spatial overlap between Significant Benthic Areas and fishing effort from 2005 to 2014 was quantified.
- Between 1.3% and 15.5% (median = 5.5%) of areas with fishing activity occurred within a Significant Benthic Area depending on the region and the coral or sponge taxa.
- Among the biogeographic units, the percent area of Significant Benthic Areas overlapping with total fishing activity ranged from 6.6 to 77.5% (median = 41.4%). When pelagic fisheries were excluded, the values ranged from 6.6% to 72.2% (median = 37.9%).
This Science Advisory Report is from the March 8–10, 2016 National Peer Review on the Delineation of Significant Areas of Coldwater Corals and Sponge-Dominated Communities in Canada's Atlantic and Eastern Arctic Marine Waters. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.
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