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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.

A portion of the area is currently protected as a marine refuge, called the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area.

Approximate Size (km2)

7,200 km2

Approximate % of Canada’s ocean territory


Date identified

March, 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 Atlantic Canada, 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. The area includes 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).

Proposed conservation priorities for the Fundian Channel-Browns Bank are:


  • Diverse representation of habitat types, including basin, bank, deep water slope and channel habitats, and their associated fish and invertebrate communities
  • Persistent habitat for juvenile Atlantic halibut
  • Concentrations of large mature female lobster
  • Suitable beaked whale habitat


  • Deep-water corals
  • Significant concentrations of sponges
  • Representative habitat for Atlantic cod, Atlantic wolffish, winter skate, thorny skate, and white hake
  • Highly suitable habitat for cusk


  • The collection of oceanographic features, such as internal waves, areas of upwelling, and occasional presence of Gulf current and warm-core rings, at the mouth of the Fundian Channel that make it a highly productive area that is associated with the presence of large pelagic fishes, sea turtles, and cetaceans
  • A blue whale foraging area
  • Foraging ground for most functional guilds of marine birds, including Leach’s storm petrel
Key Objectives and Approach

Key Objectives and Approach

The proposed overarching goal for the Fundian Channel-Browns Bank area is to conserve and protect its ecological integrity, including the biodiversity, productivity, ecosystem components, and special natural features.

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 communities, other government partners, and stakeholders including industry and environmental organizations. 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.

For more information about the Fundian Channel-Browns Bank MPA establishment process, please contact:

Marine Planning and Conservation
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Maritimes Region)
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
P.O. Box 1006
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 4A2
Tel: (902) 426-9919

Research and Publications

Research and Publications

Other resources



We are using multiple approaches to fully involve First Nations, Indigenous peoples, other governments, the public, and relevant industries in the design of the proposed Fundian Channel-Browns Bank MPA.



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