Two new “Areas of Interest” announced for marine protection in Nova Scotia
Published on Mar 22 2018
HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-NS) welcomes today’s announcement by the federal government that it intends on creating two new marine protected areas in the waters surrounding Nova Scotia.
“This is an important step in the right direction,” says Chris Miller, Executive Director of CPAWS-NS. “At the moment, Nova Scotia only has two marine protected areas, which is insufficient to protect the full range of marine biodiversity along our coastline.”
The federal government supports international targets to protect at least 10% of the ocean by the year 2020. Several countries have already met this target, and some have greatly exceeded it. Until recently, Canada has lagged far behind on the creation of marine protected areas.
Today’s announcement means that two new “Areas of Interest” have now been officially identified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); 1) Eastern Shore Islands, and 2) Fundian Channel – Browns Bank.
“These are good sites for conservation,” says Meghan Borland, a marine conservation specialist with CPAWS-NS. “Eastern Shore Islands will be the first coastal marine protected area in Nova Scotia and Fundian Channel – Browns Bank will be the first marine protected area in the western portion of the province.”
Eastern Shore Islands
“The Eastern Shore Islands site contains one of the most extensive archipelagos in eastern North America,” says Miller. “It supports a rich diversity of habitat types including bays and inlets, rocky headlands, tidal salt marshes, kelp beds, and seagrass ecosystems.”
“It also contains important seabird colonies and foraging areas, as well as providing habitat for several species-at-risk, including Atlantic salmon, American eel, Harlequin duck, and roseate tern”, adds Miller.
CPAWS-NS will be looking very closely at the issue of open-pen finfish aquaculture for the Eastern Shore Islands site, to ensure that this incompatible industrial activity is not allowed anywhere within the marine protected area.
“Open-pen fin fish farming is a threat to the inshore fishery along the Eastern Shore and to wild populations of Atlantic salmon”, says Borland. “The proposed marine protected area offers a potential opportunity to ensure that these types of destructive fish farms are not allowed here.”
Communities along the Eastern Shore have been very vocal in their concerns about open-pen fin fish aquaculture, and the impacts it could cause to the local lobster fishery and wild populations of fish. By getting this site right, the Eastern Shore Islands could act as an example for future coastal marine protected areas in Canada.
Fundian Channel – Browns Bank
“Fundian Channel – Browns Bank is a large offshore site that protects known occurrences of cold water corals and sponges,” says Miller. “It contains important habitat for a number of depleted fish species and provides a migratory corridor for whales entering and leaving the Gulf of Maine”.
CPAWS-NS will be working to ensure that the final boundary for the marine protected area includes the most ecologically significant areas, and is entirely off-limits to oil and gas exploration and development, as well as the most destructive types of fishing practices associated with bottom-trawling.
Following the official announcement of these two new “Areas of Interest”, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will now begin their consultation process in order to negotiate final boundaries and zonations for the marine protected area, as well as deciding which specific activities will be allowed and which will be prohibited.
“We look forward to working with DFO in the coming months, to ensure that these two new marine protected areas are implemented properly,” says Borland. “That includes using best available scientific information and traditional knowledge, as well as working collaboratively with First Nations, local communities, and key stakeholders.”
DFO is also in the process of developing a marine protected area network plan for the entire Scotian Shelf Bioregion. That plan has not yet been released publicly, but DFO has indicated that a public consultation will be launched “shortly” for feedback on the proposed marine protected area network design. Eastern Shore Islands and Fundian Channel – Browns Bank are part of that plan and CPAWS-NS looks forward to its public release in the near future.
Chris Miller, Ph.D.
Meghan Borland, MMM