Terms of Reference
Gully Marine Protected Area Monitoring: Review of Research Activities, Indicators, and Guidance on Next Steps
Regional Advisory Meeting – Maritimes Region
January 18-22, 2021
Chairperson: Tana Worcester
The Gully is the largest submarine canyon off eastern North America, supporting a rich diversity of habitats and species, including cold-water corals and deep-diving toothed whales. The area is acknowledged, nationally and globally, as a unique and important focus for conservation. Available scientific knowledge of the area was first drawn together by Harrison and Fenton (1998) and later updated by Gordon and Fenton (2002), following additional targeted research. In 2004, the Gully became Canada’s first Oceans Act Marine Protected Area (MPA) to be designated in the Atlantic Ocean.
In 2008, a Management Plan was completed, providing support for the MPA regulations and guidance to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), other regulators and users on the protection and management of the MPA. Conservation objectives and sub-objectives specified in 2008 were maintained and recast as conservation goals for the second edition Management Plan (DFO 2017). The overarching goal for the Gully MPA is to protect the health and integrity of the Gully ecosystem. Sub-goals for the MPA are to:
- Protect the natural biodiversity of the Gully;
- Protect the physical structure of the Gully and its physical and chemical properties;
- Maintain the productivity of the Gully ecosystem.
A framework for monitoring the MPA, including 47 proposed indicators, was prepared in 2010 to support the conservation goals and objectives (DFO 2010, Kenchington 2010). Available data, sampling protocols and monitoring programs supporting these indicators were later reviewed in 2012 (Allard et al. 2015). Monitoring and research has since continued in the MPA, helping to expand our understanding of the ecosystems, while also establishing baselines for future work and supporting improvements to the efficiency and efficacy of future monitoring.
A decade after the initial proposal of indicators, there is an opportunity and need to revisit the Gully monitoring program, to examine the utility of the data being gathered, identify gaps in coverage, incorporate new knowledge, document progress towards baselines from which change can be assessed, and interpret any observed trends. Centrally, this review seeks to evaluate whether the MPA is meeting its conservation objectives and to determine whether the current monitoring activities are suitable for this evaluation. The review will be instrumental to the formalization of a feasible monitoring program and practical implementation strategies for the Gully MPA.
As Atlantic Canada’s first Oceans Act MPA, a peer review of the monitoring and assessment of the Gully is expected to provide important lessons and perspectives for the development of long-term monitoring programs at other offshore MPAs and ultimately for Canada’s bioregional MPA networks.
The objectives of this meeting are to review the performance of the Gully MPA in meeting its conservation objectives and to provide advice on how to move forward efficiently with monitoring. These objectives will be accomplished through:
- scientific peer review of available data (and baselines where they have been developed) for each indicator listed in the Gully Monitoring Framework (Kenchington 2010) or for alternative indicators developed subsequently;
- the evaluation and interpretation of any trends from those indicators with reference to the MPA’s conservation objectives;
- consideration of advances in understanding of the ecosystems in The Gully, including a conceptual model of those ecosystems, to provide a foundation for development of more efficient indicators and improved understanding of how the indicators reflect ecosystem function within the MPA;
- determination of which indicators are useful in the evaluation of MPA performance, leading to recommendations for improvements to the existing suite of indicators, including the addition or removal of indicators, as well as improvements or additions to monitoring protocols/strategies;
- the development of a minimal suite of indicators suitable for MPA performance evaluation and the identification of any gaps in the current monitoring program that should be prioritized for increased scientific effort;
- examination of linkages between ecological processes in the Gully and those of the broader Scotian Shelf MPA network planning region (e.g., through connectivity, gene flow, source-sink dynamics).
- Research Document(s)
- Science Advisory Report
- DFO Science
- DFO Ecosystem Management
- Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Natural Resources Canada
- Nova Scotia Provincial Representatives
- Aboriginal communities / organizations
- Offshore Oil & Gas Industry
- Non-Government Organizations
- Fishing Industry
- Allard, K., Cochrane, N., Curran, K., Fenton, D., Koropatnick, T., Gjerdrum, C., Greenan, B.J.W., Head, E., Macnab, P., Moors-Murphy, H., Serdynska, A., Trzcinski, M.K., Vaughan, M., and Whitehead, H. 2015. The Gully Marine Protected Area Data Assessment. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2015/056. vi + 167 p.
- DFO. 2017. The Gully Marine Protected Area Management Plan, Second Edition. Oceans and Coastal Management Division, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Maritimes Region. 2017-1998. 69 p.
- DFO. 2010. Review of the Gully Marine Protected Area Monitoring Indicators, Protocols and Strategies. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2010/066.
- Gordon, D.C. and D.G. Fenton (eds.) 2002. Advances in understanding The Gully ecosystem: A summary of research projects conducted at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (1999-2001). Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2377: iv + 84 p.
- Harrison, W.G. and D.G. Fenton. 1998. The Gully: A scientific review of its environment and ecosystem. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 98/83: x + 282 p.
- Kenchington, T.J. 2010. Environmental Monitoring of the Gully Marine Protected Area: A Recommendation. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2010/075: vi + 59 p.
Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.
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