Central Gulf of St. Lawrence Coral Conservation Area
- Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion (Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador)
- Approximate Size (km2) contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
- 1,284 km2
- Approximate % coverage contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
- Conservation Objective
- Cold-water coral protection
Ecological Components of Interest
Species of regional importance: cold-water corals
- Why they are important: Cold-water corals are fragile, slow to recover, structure-providing species.
Habitat that is important to biodiversity conservation: cold-water corals
- Why they are important: This conservation area features the highest known concentration of the Anthoptilum grandiflorum sea pen in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence bioregion. This species contributes to creating a diverse habitat for many other species.
The ecological components of interest are effectively conserved through the following prohibitions:
All fishing that uses bottom-contact gear, such as bottom trawls, dredges, bottom seining, traps, gillnets, and bottom longlines.
No human activities that are incompatible with the conservation of the ecological components of interest may occur or be foreseeable within the area.
This conservation area includes communities of sea pens classified as significant benthic areas (CSAS SAR - 2017/007) in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence bioregion. The area is the only conservation area that includes a high concentration of Flabellum alabastrum hard corals, which have a restricted range. This conservation area also includes other biologically important features, such as a high concentration of Duva florida soft corals, the presence of the large structure-providing Asconema foliatum sponge, and at least three species of rays and wolffish.
High concentrations of corals provide habitat with complex structures that provide refuge, feeding, and rearing areas for many marine species, thus supporting greater biodiversity.
Prohibiting bottom-contact fishing gear makes it possible to directly protect the fragile structure of corals and can also help protect the fish and invertebrate species that rely on this habitat.
Following the signing of the Canada–Quebec Collaborative Agreement to Establish a Network of Marine Protected Areas in Quebec in March 2018 (available in French), the governments of Canada and Quebec are evaluating the possibility of reinforcing coral and sponge conservation measures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence by prohibiting certain activities other than fishing in certain zones.
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