Protecting Fragile Marine Areas and Species on the Ocean Bottom

DFO has taken many steps to protect fragile marine areas and species. The sites on the map below meet several concerns or needs, but have been identified primarily as those that play an important role in contributing to the conservation of ocean bottom (benthic) species, habitats and biodiversity. This is not an exhaustive list of all such areas.

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These maps include various fisheries closures implemented under the Fisheries Act that help conserve ocean bottom environments. These fisheries closures restrict one or more types of bottom contact fishing gear. In certain areas, all types of bottom contact gear is restricted (e.g. NAFO Area 3O closure), while in others, a single type of bottom contact gear is restricted while others are permitted (e.g. Lobster Fishing Area 40 closure, which restricts lobster pots only).

Many other local fisheries closures involving bottom contact gear can be found throughout Canadian waters, but are too small to show on this map. Offshore licence holders using otter trawls are also restricted from fishing within twelve miles of the Atlantic Canada coast, while shrimp trawls are restricted within twelve miles of Quebec's North Shore and the northern side of the Gaspésie. Note that outside Canadian waters, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible only for the administration of these closures within the Canadian fleet. While the closures also apply to non-Canadian vessels, they are administered by a vessel's respective country or flag state.

The map also indicates where several voluntary fisheries closures are located. While voluntary closures are not legally binding, specific groups within the fishing industry have voluntarily restricted the use of bottom contact fishing gears for conservation purposes.

Other special management areas can contribute to the conservation and protection of ocean bottom species, habitat and biodiversity. These marine protected areas, established under the Oceans Act to conserve and protect benthic ecosystems, restrict the use of bottom contact fishing gears. The map identifies the location of marine protected areas that include these restrictions.

All areas identified on the maps have been established for a long term period and are in effect throughout the entire year. Additional closed areas administered by other federal, provincial and municipal organizations (e.g. National Marine Conservation Areas administrated by Parks Canada) have not been included here. Note that these maps are not exhaustive and are for illustrative purposes only, and should not be used for official fisheries planning purposes. Please consult with your local Fisheries and Oceans Canada office for specific coordinates and restrictions in each closed area. These maps are subject to updates as required.

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