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Coral & Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada 2015

Coral & Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada 2015

Coral & Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada 2015 (PDF, 3.30 MB)

Table of Contents

Targets and Actions

Specific targets and actions have been developed to outline how DFO will achieve the objectives of this Strategy. Table 7 outlines targets and associated actions in relation to conservation, and management priorities, while targets and actions related to research priorities are outlined in Table 8. Each DFO region will further define each action in a regional context, provide detailed timelines and identify lead sectors to ensure a consistent approach to addressing the Strategic Objectives, while allowing the flexibility to respond to regional differences.

This table is made up of two columns for each of seven conservation and management targets. Actions under each target are listed in column 1 and the corresponding purpose is listed in column 2.

Table 7 Targets (T) and Actions (A) in support of conservation and management objectives
T1.  Define and Identify Important Coral and Sponge Areas
Action Purpose
A 1.1 Refine and focus on ‘significant’ coral and sponge species. To increase knowledge
A 1.2 Compile and map existing data on the distribution and relative abundance of coral and sponge species, and update as new data becomes available. To increase knowledge
A 1.3 Identify and delineate significant coral and sponge concentrations using advice from Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS), predictive models, and other appropriate sources. To increase knowledge
A 1.4 Identify and delineate coastal sponge aggregations and study their distribution and ecological function. To increase knowledge
T2.  Identify Threats and Stressors to Corals and Sponges
Action Purpose
A 2.1 Define human caused ‘threats’ and ‘stressors’ to corals and sponges using advice from CSAS reports and other appropriate sources. To inform decision making
A 2.2 Assemble and map existing information on human activities that may affect corals and sponges in eastern Canadian waters.  To inform 
decision making
T3.  Assess Risks to Coral and Sponge Areas and Determine whether Management Measures are Needed
Action Purpose
A 3.1 Consistent with the Policy to Manage the Impacts of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas, assess the fishing-related risk of harm to corals and sponges.   
A 3.1.1 Delineate historically fished and frontier areas within the scope of the Strategy.

A 3.1.2 Apply the ERAF to determine the risk of serious or irreversible harm to corals and sponges within historically fished areas.
To inform decision making
A 3.2 Assess threats to sponges and corals resulting from proposed developments and activities, and depending on the level of risk, recommend mitigations to reduce impacts to an acceptable level, issue an Authorization under the Fisheries Act, or refuse to authorize the project. To inform decision making
T4.  Protect Important Coral and Sponge Areas through Implementation of New or Existing Management Measures 
Action Purpose
A 4.1 Apply the appropriate management options to address risks identified in A 3.1 and A 3.2 including provisional measures where warranted. To inform decision making
A 4.2 Where appropriate, incorporate management measures into Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs), Conservation Harvesting Plans and license conditions, including fishery closures. To inform decision making
A 4.3 Advise industry proponents (e.g. oil and gas) and regulatory authorities through environmental review processes on the presence, potential impacts, and proposed mitigations for corals and sponges.  To inform
decision making
A 4.4 Develop encounter protocols consistent with the Policy for Managing the Impacts of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas and the New and Emerging Fisheries Policy, with a focus on frontier areas. To develop Policy 
A 4.5 Consider coral and sponge conservation when developing operational objectives and management actions within IM initiatives, MPA network development, and SARA recovery plans. To inform decision making
A 4.6 Assess impacts on corals and sponges as part of activity approval processes within existing Oceans Act MPAs and as part of exceptions and prohibitions during new Oceans Act MPA designation processes. To inform decision making
T5.  Monitor and Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Management Measures 
Action Purpose
A 5.1 Continue reporting requirements for coral and sponge by-catch. To inform 
decision making 
A 5.2 Develop and implement pre- and post-impact monitoring standards based on sound science advice. To increase knowledge
A 5.3 Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of existing habitat protection and mitigation measures, including fishery compliance, IFMPs and closed areas, in protecting corals and sponges.  To inform decision making
A 5.4 Analyze trends in coral and sponge occurrence recorded from DFO Science surveys. To increase knowledge
T6.  Foster Public Involvement and Participation in Conservation and Management of Corals and Sponges 
Action Purpose
A 6.1 Use new and existing DFO communications and outreach tools and opportunities to increase awareness of coral and sponge conservation and encourage public involvement (Diving into the Deep: Coral and Sponge Conservation in Canada, Oasis of the Deep and other appropriate DVDs, posters, displays, etc.).   To raise awareness
A 6.2 Provide regional updates on  management measures and monitoring results  in relation to regional coral and sponge conservation to stakeholders as appropriate.  To raise awareness
A 6.3 Facilitate information sharing and collaborative planning with other government agencies, Aboriginal organizations and stakeholders on coral and sponge conservation (using existing processes such as oceans governance and MPA advisory committees, and the committees established in the context of federal-provincial agreements.).  To raise awareness
A 6.4 Foster shared stewardship and collaboration with relevant government agencies, Aboriginal organizations, industry and other stakeholders regarding the conservation of corals and sponges.  To raise awareness

This table is made up of two columns for each of four research targets. Actions under each target are listed in column 1 and the corresponding purpose is listed in column 2.

Table 8 Targets (T) and Actions (A) in support of research objectives
T1.  Enhance Ongoing Benthic Habitat Research Activities in relation to Corals and Sponges
Action Purpose
A1.1 Identify and prioritize research needs and conduct research where data is insufficient.  To increase knowledge
A1.2 Research, develop, and implement methods to detect and assess coral and sponge species and communities (i.e. predictive models, field studies, development of metrics, bathymetric and multibeam bottom classification studies, oceanographic variability measurement and modeling, and habitat characterization). To increase knowledge
A1.3 Minimize the risk of damage to corals and sponges from research activities such as trawl surveys To increase knowledge
A1.4 Develop and refine protocols and tools to standardize quality and nature of collected data (i.e. observer taxonomic guides, standard data collection, storage, access protocols, metadata standards, DFO Survey). To increase knowledge
A1.5 Compile, analyze, and assess data from DFO Science surveys, bottom classification studies, oceanographic studies and other emerging sources in support of coral and sponge conservation and management objectives.    To increase knowledge
A1.6 Conduct research on the role(s) coral and sponge species play in the broader ecosystem and their importance to species targeted by recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fisheries.  To increase knowledge
A1.7 Research the impacts that human activities have on coral and sponge communities.  To increase knowledge
A1.8 Continue reporting requirements for coral and sponge by-catch through the At-sea Observer Program. To increase knowledge
A1.9 Pursue opportunities to increase funding for benthic habitat research. To increase knowledge
T2.  Monitor and Evaluate the Health of Corals and Sponges
Action Purpose
A2.1 Develop indicators for coral and sponge health and recovery. To increase knowledge
A2.2 Determine ecosystem indicators that measure the extent and nature of human impacts on coral and sponge habitats. To increase knowledge
A2.3 Monitor health of corals and sponges within fisheries closures and MPAs, including recovery from human impacts.  To increase knowledge
T3.  Provide Opportunities for Information Sharing and Research Collaboration
Action Purpose
A3.1 Promote and conduct collaborative research and enhance existing scientific surveys in support of current conservation measures and strategies [e.g. science surveys and other surveys conducted by academia, international collaborators, and environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs)]. To inform decision making 
A3.2 Seek opportunities for information sharing and research collaboration with international and federal-provincial working groups. To inform decision making
A3.3 Seek partnerships with industry to conduct research, develop research tools (e.g. ROV) and facilitate data sharing. To inform decision making
A3.4 Develop a data mapping application for other departments, co-management organizations and agencies to use in management decision-making.  To inform decision making
T4.  Evaluate the potential Impacts of Conservation Measures on Human Activities 
Action Purpose
A4.1 Evaluate the potential socioeconomic impact of any new conservation measures through the ERAF process, industry consultations, and/or socioeconomic overview.  To inform decision making
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