HALIFAX—Oceans North welcomes the announcement today of the largest new fisheries closure off Nova Scotia, an area called the Eastern Canyons Marine Refuge covering 43,976 square kilometres off Nova Scotia. Announced on World Ocean Day, this closure will protect important deep-sea ecosystems that are home to deep-water corals, sponges and bottle-nosed whales.
“In just a couple of decades, we have gone from discovering to protecting amazing and fragile ecosystems all along the continental shelf,” says Susanna Fuller, vice president of operations and projects at Oceans North. “This is an important step in creating a network of protected areas in the Northwest Atlantic that will help address the connected crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.”
Oceans North engaged in the process to establish the closure as a member of a Technical Advisory Committee which includes fisheries managers, industry stakeholders and conservation organizations. Over the past year, the group reviewed scientific and socioeconomic information and largely reached agreement on the boundaries of the area.
“Thirty years ago, fishermen using hook-and-line gear were the first to raise concerns about the impacts of fishing on coral ecosystems,” says Fuller. “We know that closing areas to fisheries can be difficult, and we worked closely with industry to understand which fishing areas were the most important. Our hope is that protecting these habitats will benefit fisheries into the future.”
This closure also offers further protection for the only population of reef-forming coral—Lophelia pertusa, or spider coral—off Nova Scotia. This species was first protected in 2004 by a 15-square-kilometre closure after fishing destroyed much of the coral. Recent research by Fisheries and Oceans Canada found that the population was recovering, showing the value of collaborative efforts to protect and restore marine ecosystems.
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