St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area (MPA)
Charts, diagrams and contact information on this website are provided for information purposes only and should not be used for fishing, navigation or other purposes. Please refer to the MPA Regulations or contact your regional Fisheries and Oceans Canada office for official coordinates.
East of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia; Scotian Shelf Bioregion.
Approximate size (km2) contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
Approximate % coverage contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
Date of Designation
- Conserve and protect all major benthic, demersal (i.e., close to the sea floor) and pelagic (i.e., in the water column) habitats within the MPA, along with their associated physical, chemical, geological and biological properties and processes;
- Conserve and protect marine areas of high biodiversity at the community, species, population and genetic levels within the MPA; and
- Conserve and protect biological productivity across all trophic levels so that they are able to fulfill their ecological role in the ecosystems of the MPA.
St. Anns Bank MPA Regulations prohibit any activities that disturb, damage, or remove living marine organisms or any part of their habitat, unless the activity is listed as an exception in the Regulations or approved by the Minister.
St. Anns Bank is an exceptional habitat that has many ecologically and biologically significant features. It has the highest annual sea surface temperature range on the Scotian Shelf, and provides important habitat for commercial and non-commercial species, such as Atlantic cod, redfish, white hake, witch flounder, and a variety of sponges, corals and sea pens. Scientific surveys have recorded more than 100 species in this area. The wide variety of habitat types, from the shallows of St. Anns Bank to the depths of the Laurentian Channel, supports this diversity.
Endangered and threatened marine species, such as leatherback turtles, Atlantic wolffish, Atlantic cod, American plaice, and redfish, are also present in the area. In addition, St. Anns Bank is part of an important migration corridor for fish and marine mammals, including whales, moving in and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and St. Lawrence Estuary.
St. Anns Bank is an exceptional habitat on the inner Scotian Shelf. It has the highest annual sea surface temperature range on the Scotian Shelf, and distinctive sea floor features within the site (Big Shoal, Scatarie Bank, and areas of high relief).
The St. Anns Bank area is high in biodiversity with scientific surveys recording over 100 species in this area. The wide variety of habitat types, from the shallows of St. Anns Bank to the depths of the Laurentian Channel, supports this diversity.
St. Anns Bank is part of a migration corridor for fish and marine mammals moving in and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and St. Lawrence Estuary, ranging from small forage fish like herring and mackerel, to the immense blue whale. It is an overwintering area for the Sydney Bight and southern Gulf of St. Lawrence populations of Atlantic cod.
The area is an important habitat for several commercial species (e.g. redfish and halibut) and non-commercial species (e.g. sponges and sea pens). It is also important for threatened, endangered and depleted species, such as Atlantic wolffish (Special Concern, Species at Risk Act), Atlantic cod, redfish, white hake and American plaice. St. Anns Bank is also part of an important summer feeding area for the Leatherback Turtle, listed as endangered under the SARA.
Management and Conservation
Management and Conservation
The St. Anns Bank MPA has primary conservation objectives in three areas: habitat, biodiversity and biological productivity.
Conserve and protect
- All major benthic, demersal (i.e. close to the sea floor) and pelagic (i.e. in the water column) habitats within the St. Anns Bank MPA, along with their associated physical, chemical, geological and biological properties and processes;
- Distinctive physical features and their associated ecological characteristics; and
- The structural habitat provided by sea pen and sponge concentrations.
Conserve and protect marine areas of high biodiversity at the community, species, population and genetic levels within the St. Anns Bank MPA, including:
- Priority species and their habitats (including leatherback turtle, Atlantic wolffish, Atlantic cod, and American plaice); and
- The area of high fish diversity within the site.
3. Biological Productivity
Conserve and protect biological productivity across all trophic levels so that they are able to fulfill their ecological role in the ecosystems of the St. Anns Bank MPA.
The secondary goals of the MPA are to:
- Conserve and ensure the ecologically sustainable use of living marine resources in the MPA; and
- Help maintain ecosystem health and resilience and support the ecologically sustainable use of living marine resources beyond the boundaries of the St. Anns Bank MPA.
A management plan for the St. Anns Bank MPA is under development. The management plan will outline DFO’s approach to managing activities in the MPA. The plan will explain key requirements of the St. Anns Bank MPA Regulations for marine users and identify allowed activities and management priorities.
As the lead federal authority for the MPA, DFO will have overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with, and enforcement of, the Regulations. This will be undertaken through the Department’s legislated mandate and responsibilities under the Oceans Act, the Fisheries Act and the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, as well as other departmental legislation regarding fisheries conservation, environmental protection, habitat protection and marine safety. Enforcement officers designated by the Minister under section 39 of the Oceans Act will enforce the Regulations for these areas. Enforcement of the Regulations and offences will be dealt with under section 37 of the Oceans Act.
Activity application for St. Anns Bank MPA
Scientific research or monitoring, educational, or commercial marine tourism activities are allowed in the St. Anns Bank MPA if a proponent submits an activity plan to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and it receives Ministerial approval.
- Conservation Priorities, Objectives, And Ecosystem Assessment Approach For The St. Anns Bank Area Of Interest (AOI) (2012) (CSAS SAR - 2012/034)
- Ecological Overview of St Anns Bank (2013)
- Ecological risk assessment of the St. Anns Bank AOI
- A preliminary monitoring framework for St. Anns Bank (2013) (CSAS ResDocs - 2013/117)
- Review of a monitoring framework for the St. Anns Bank AOI (CSAS scr - 2013/028)
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