The Laurentian Channel has been identified as containing the highest levels of biodiversity off the Newfoundland shores. The variety of depths within the Channel creates great diversity of habitats. These habitats allow many different species to live, spawn and migrate through the area.
On World Oceans Day June 8th, 2010, the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), announced the Laurentian Channel as a new Area of Interest (AOI) for potential designation as a Marine Protected Area under the Oceans Act.
The Laurentian Channel MPA should support the conservation of biodiversity through the protection of key species, habitats, and ecosystem structure and function, and through scientific research. Conservation objectives were developed in consultation with stakeholders, and focus on six species: Sea Pens, Black Dogfish, Smooth Skate, Northern Wolffish, Porbeagle Shark, and Leatherback Sea Turtle. Many other species will also benefit from the proposed MPA regulations.
The proposed Laurentian Channel MPA is located off the southwest coast of Newfoundland and Labrador (NAFO Subdivision 3P), covers approximately 11,908 km2, and includes the water column, seabed and subsoil to a depth of 5m. The area was originally identified by DFO as an ecologically and biologically significant area (EBSA) within the Placentia Bay-Grand Banks Large Ocean Management Area (PB/GB LOMA).
QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE AREA
The MPA regulations will include a general prohibition of activities that are likely to result in: disturbance, damage, destruction, or removal of any living marine organism or any part of its habitat; and, activities resulting in the discharge of substances which might impact organisms, habitat or marine environmental quality. Additional proposed regulations are currently being developed through consultations, and will focus on restricting all commercial fishing in the MPA, and limiting oil and gas exploration and production drilling activities to specific areas. Marine transportation and scientific research will not be impacted.
Upon establishment, the Laurentian Channel MPA will be the largest no-take zone in Canada. Official MPA designation is expected by 2016.
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