Eastern Canyons Conservation Area
- Scotian Shelf-Bay of Fundy Bioregion, previously Scotian Shelf Bioregion (Nova Scotia)
- Approximate Size (km2) contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
- 43,976 km2
- Approximate % coverage contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
- Conservation Objective
- Protect cold-water corals and deep water frontier area
Ecological components of interest
Species of regional importance: Cold-water corals and Lophelia pertusa coral reef.
- Why they are important: Cold-water corals are fragile, slow to recover, structure-providing species. This area also includes the only known living Lophelia pertusa coral reef in Canada’s Atlantic waters.
Habitat that is important to biodiversity conservation: Cold-water corals and Lophelia pertusa coral reef
- Why it is important:
There are a variety of coral species in this area, including significant areas of large gorgonian coral concentrations (species of Paragorgia, Primnoa, Keratoisis, Lophelia pertusa and others). These structure-forming species provide diverse habitat for many species, such as groundfish (e.g., redfish and Atlantic halibut). Lophelia reefs are also known to be hotspots for biodiversity.
The marine refuge also protects a large, deep-water frontier area, which is a marine area without history of fishing in Canadian waters, interpreted to be waters deeper than 2000 m, and has little if any information on benthic features and any fishing impacts on such features.
The ecological components of interest are effectively conserved through the following prohibitions:
All communal commercial and commercial bottom-contact fishing gear is prohibited in the marine refuge, with the exception of bottom longline gear that is permitted within a small zone provided the fishing vessels have At-sea observers onboard.
The protection standard for other effective area-based conservation measures, including marine refuges, assess all activities on a case-by-case basis. Some activities could be allowed if the risks they pose to the OECM providing biodiversity conservation benefits are avoided or mitigated. Before any proposed activity can take place, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard would need to be satisfied that any risks to the area have been avoided or mitigated effectively.
Cold-water corals play an important functional role for numerous forms of marine life. They act as spawning and breeding grounds, nurseries, and refuges for many aquatic species.
The dense aggregations created by large, structure-forming cold-water corals can alter bottom currents and provide niche space for other organisms.
Prohibiting bottom-contact gear can protect not only the corals but a diversity of other species of fish and invertebrates that utilize the complex structural habitat the corals provide. This area can act as a natural refuge area that may contribute to increased species productivity, which in turn, could potentially lead to increased abundance within and adjacent to the area.
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