Fundian Channel-Browns Bank Area of Interest (AOI)


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Fundian Channel-Browns Bank AOI

Fundian Channel-Browns Bank AOI


South of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, in the Scotian Shelf bioregion.


This Area of Interest includes two geographically separate components. The western section is centred on Georges Basin while the larger eastern section encompasses the Fundian Channel (also known as the Northeast Channel) and part of Browns Bank.

Approximate Size (km2)

7,200 km2

Approximate % of Canada’s ocean territory


Date identified

February, 2018

Proposed Overarching Goal

To conserve and protect the ecological integrity of the area, including its biodiversity, productivity, ecosystem components, and special natural features.

Environmental Context

This Area of Interest includes important oceanographic processes, diverse benthic habitats, several depleted species (e.g., groundfish), and deep-sea coral and sponge habitats. The Northeast Channel portion of the Area contains the densest-known concentrations of large gorgonian corals in the Maritimes, and the Browns Bank portion contains significant concentrations of sponges. The channel is also the largest entrance to the Gulf of Maine from the open Atlantic Ocean and many species, including basking sharks, use it as a migration corridor.

Ecological Importance

Ecological Importance

The Fundian Channel-Browns Bank AOI encompasses important oceanographic processes and diverse sensitive benthic habitats that provide shelter, feeding and nursery areas for a variety of commercial and non-commercial species. Fundian Channel-Browns Bank is a migratory corridor and an area of high biodiversity, including important corals and sponges that provide habitat for many depleted groundfish species. Much of this area has been identified as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA).

Key ecological features include:

  • Significant concentrations of gorgonian corals, e.g., bubblegum coral
  • Significant concentrations of sponges
  • Important foraging habitat for various seabird species
  • Areas of high diversity and productivity for fish and invertebrate species, including larvae
  • Distinctive oceanographic processes, such as upwelling that creates unique ecological conditions
  • Habitat for a variety of species of concern:
    • Atlantic cod (Endangered – COSEWIC)
    • Atlantic wolfish (Special Concern – SARA)
    • cusk (Endangered – COSEWIC)
    • spiny dogfish (Special Concern – COSEWIC)
    • smooth skate (Special Concern – COSEWIC)
    • thorny skate (Special Concern – COSEWIC)
    • white hake (Threatened – COSEWIC)
Key Objectives and Approach

Key Objectives and Approach

The interim objective for Fundian Channel-Browns Bank is to conserve and protect its ecological integrity, including the biodiversity, productivity, ecosystem components, and special natural features of the Area.

Proposed conservation priorities for Fundian Channel-Browns Bank are:

  • Significant concentrations of gorgonian corals
  • Significant concentration of sponges
  • Important habitat for depleted groundfish species
  • Migratory corridor to and from the Gulf of Maine
  • Areas of high diversity and productivity

The selection of an Area of Interest marks the beginning of the Marine Protected Area establishment process, led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. An important first step in designating a Marine Protected Area is to initiate consultation mechanisms, including the establishment of an advisory committee, to help capture input from First Nations and Indigenous groups, other government partners, and stakeholders including industry and the local community. The process also includes the collection and analysis of available ecological and socio-economic data and the completion of a risk assessment. The information gathered through consultation, data collection and analysis will inform the Area’s conservation objectives, along with its boundary and zones, and will help determine the management measures and associated regulations required for the future Marine Protected Area.

Research and Publications

Research and Publications

  • Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat: Offshore Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion
Date modified: