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The Grand Banks of Newfoundland: Atlas of Human Activities

The Grand Banks of Newfoundland: Atlas of Human Activities

The Grand Banks of Newfoundland: Atlas of Human Activities (PDF, 115 MB)

Oceans Division
Oceans and Habitat Management Branch
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador Region)

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2007

All rights reserved. No part of this information (publication or product) may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without prior written permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2007, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0S5 or at

Cat. No.
978-0-662-45273-7 (English PDF)
978-0-662-73641-7 (French PDF)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada


Published by:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Newfoundland and Labrador Region
Communications Branch and
Oceans Division, Oceans and Habitat Management Branch
PO Box 5667
St. John’s, NL A1C 5X1

Printed on recycled paper


This atlas was co-edited by Jason Simms, Charlene Coates, Geoff Coughlan and Dawn Mercer. Maps were created by Charlene Coates and writing was completed by Geoff Coughlan and Charlene Coates.

Authors would like to sincerely thank the following individuals who kindly shared their knowledge or provided data on various aspects of the Atlas of Human Activities, as well as those that took part in the review process: Susan Gover, Dave Hawkins and Lewis Manual from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board; Neil Peet and Brian Stone from the Canadian Coast Guard, Newfoundland and Labrador Region; Kirk Regular from Digeos; Scott Lewis and Rick Wadman from Environment Canada; LCdr R. G. Thwaites and Lt (N) Jay Warwick from National Defence; and Louis Armstrong from Transport Canada.

Authors would also like to thank the following staff of Fisheries and Oceans Canada who shared data and advice as well as took part in the review process: Chris Annand, Heather Bishop, Tony Bowdring, Rick Boyce, Heather Breeze, Bill Brodie, Noel Cadigan, Eugene Colbourne, Keith Clarke, Brian Dempson, Glen Herbert, Sean Hinds, Tracey Horseman, Leonard Knight, Morley Knight, Dave Kulka, Roger Menard, Dave Millar, Neil Ollerhead, Mike O’Connell, Richard Palmer, Ann-Marie Russell, Sandra Savory, Murray Scotney, Andrew Smith, Gary Smith, Blair Thorne, Elaine Walker, Ben Whelan and Larry Yetman.


The Grand Banks of Newfoundland

The Grand Banks of Newfoundland are located south and east of the island of Newfoundland. They are comprised of a grouping of submerged banks including the Grand Bank, Whale Bank, Green Bank and St. Pierre Bank. Most of the bank areas are found at depths up to 200 metres with the majority of area between 51 - 100 metres. The continental slope is quite steep along the southern and eastern portions of the banks and depths reach to beyond 1000 metres over a relatively short distance. The slope to the north, northeast and west (of St. Pierre Bank) is much more gradual. The Grand Bank is deeply incised with submarine canyons along the southern and southeast areas and the Nose and Tail of the Grand Bank lie beyond the Canadian 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Map depicting the Grand Banks of Newfoundland

Map depicting the Grand Banks of Newfoundland

Grand Banks NAFO Areas

The Grand Banks are located within the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization’s (NAFO) Divisions 3LNOP. According to Halliday and Pinhorn (1990) the Northwest Atlantic was first divided for the purposes of collecting fishery statistics in the 1930s by the North American Council on Fishery Investigations (NACFI). These divisions were modified in the 1950s by the International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF). The ICNAF divisions were adopted by NAFO when it came into existence in 1979. Halliday and Pinhorn (1990) indicated that cod and haddock stock structure were the main influences in statistical boundary delineation.

Halliday, R.G. and A.T. Pinhorn. 1990. The Delimitation of Fishing Areas in the Northwest Atlantic. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science. Special Issue. Vol. 10.

Map depicting the Grand Banks NAFO Areas

Map depicting the Grand Banks NAFO Areas

Atlas Of Human Activities Study Area

Map depicting the Atlas of Human Activities Study Area

Map depicting the Atlas of Human Activities Study Area

Canada’s Oceans Act gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the responsibility to lead and facilitate integrated management (IM) for Canada’s oceans. The 2005 Oceans Action Plan identified five Large Ocean Management Areas (LOMAs) as priorities for IM planning. The Placentia Bay/Grand Banks area was named as a priority LOMA because it possesses important living and non-living marine resources, areas of high biological diversity and productivity, and increasing development and competition for ocean space and resources. IM will be implemented in the LOMA at different scales including Coastal Management Areas (CMAs) as well as the larger offshore area of the Grand Banks. Planning efforts are undertaken with full participation by stakeholders who work together to develop IM plans within the LOMA. A potential LOMA boundary has been proposed based upon a mix of existing administrative boundaries and ecological considerations, but not yet finalized.

The purpose of this Atlas of Human Activities is to examine the spatial distribution of human activities in the offshore area of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Such an examination will contribute to management planning for the offshore component of the Placentia Bay/Grand Banks LOMA. The study area, created for the sole purpose of this atlas, encompasses an area of approximately 533,300 km2 beginning from the outer limit of the 12 nautical mile territorial sea to beyond the outer limits of the continental shelf. The western boundary is defined by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) line separating Subdivisions 3Pn and 3Ps from 4Vn and Division 3O from 4Vs; the eastern boundary is the NAFO line running between 3L and 3M and 3N and 3M; the northern boundary is the NAFO line between Divisions 3L and 3K and the southern boundary is defined as 42º N latitude. This study area was chosen to reflect the ecosystem-scale of IM planning. The study area boundary appears on all maps included in the atlas.

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