Science Response 2013/028
Review of a Monitoring Framework for the St. Anns Bank Area of Interest
A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a coastal or oceanic area given special status to conserve and protect its habitat and wildlife under Section 35 of Canada’s Oceans Act. Under the Health of the Oceans (HOTO) Initiative, DFO identified a series of Areas of Interest (AOI) for candidate MPAs located in different regions across Canada, with a goal of designating an additional six MPAs.
In the Maritimes Region, an AOI, referred to as the St. Anns Bank AOI, (Figure 1), located off Scatarie Island, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, has been selected. The St. Anns Bank AOI includes part of St. Anns Bank, Scatarie Bank, and a portion of the Laurentian Channel. These marine areas provide diverse habitats for a range of commercial fish species (e.g., redfish and halibut), non-commercial marine species (e.g., sponges, corals, and anemones) and several at-risk marine species. The area also lies astride a key migration route for many marine mammals and commercial and non-commercial fish species. The AOI was identified as an area with high biological and habitat diversity, and contributes to the MPA network strategic objective of protecting representative examples of all major habitats in the bioregion (DFO 2012). A Regional Science Peer Review was conducted in January 2012 to review the proposed conservation objectives and risk assessment methodology for this AOI (DFO 2012).
Under HOTO, DFO Science is required to deliver indicators, protocols and strategies for monitoring the conservation objectives of established MPAs and identified AOIs. Monitoring of biological and ecological indicators (and related threats) is essential for:
- incorporating an ecological component into broader MPA monitoring programs,
- tracking indicator status, condition and trends to determine if MPAs are effective in achieving their conservation objectives,
- aiding managers in the adjustment of MPA management plans to achieve conservation objectives, and
- reporting to Parliament and Canadians. Selection of indicators and protocols for collection and analysis of data must be scientifically defensible (DFO 2010).
A draft monitoring framework has been prepared for the St. Anns Bank AOI, including indicators, protocols and strategies for monitoring those draft conservation objectives. This Science Response Report results from the Science Response Process (SRP) of 8-9 November 2012 on the Review of the Draft St. Anns Bank Area of Interest (AOI) Monitoring Framework. 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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