St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area


The Government of Canada has designated St. Anns Bank, located to the east of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, as a marine protected area (MPA) under the Oceans Act. The designation is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to developing a national network of MPAs and to reaching its domestic and international marine conservation targets.

The St. Anns Bank MPA has many ecologically and biologically significant features including unique habitats, areas of high biodiversity and biological productivity, and is home to endangered and threatened marine species. Its ecosystem provides an important habitat for commercial and non-commercial fishery resources, such as the Atlantic wolffish, Atlantic cod, redfish, white hake, witch flounder, as well as sponges and sea pens. It is also an important summer feeding area for the endangered leatherback turtle. 

The aim of this MPA is to conserve and protect this important ecosystem. Therefore, the MPA prohibits activities that compromise this conservation objective, such as fishing with mobile bottom-contacting fishing gear.

The Regulations establish four management zones, where current lower risk activities are permitted. Together these zones balance the conservation and protection of biological diversity, habitat and biological productivity of the St. Anns Bank area while ensuring the continued access of existing local fisheries. The zoning provides varying levels of protection within the MPA, offering the most stringent protection to areas that need it most. The Core Protection Zone is the largest area (approximately 3,308 km2 in size) and most human activities are limited within this area. The other three zones are designed to accommodate certain activities that are compatible with the conservation objectives of the MPA.

The MPA includes Scatarie Bank, most of St. Anns Bank, and part of the western edge of the Laurentian Slope and Channel. This MPA provides protection to an additional 4,364 km2 of Canada’s oceans and ensures the long-term protection of this unique and productive ecosystem. 

Designating a Marine Protected Area

The St. Anns Bank area was selected in 2011 following an extensive public consultation. Knowledge of the area was then further refined through consideration of additional science, traditional knowledge, consultation and socio-economic analysis of the area. An advisory committee composed of representatives from industry, academia, environmental groups, provincial and federal government regulators, and First Nations and Indigenous organizations participated in the development of the conservation objectives and the delineation of the MPA boundaries and zones.

The Regulations to establish the St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in December 2016, launching a 45-day public review period. Comments received were considered in developing the final Regulations. 

Ecological monitoring, surveillance of activities and stewardship projects are all part of the MPA’s ongoing management. 

Committed to Marine Protected Areas and Our Oceans

This new MPA demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to collaboration and to increasing environmental protection of Canada’s marine and coastal areas. Budget 2016 included $123.7 million over five years to support marine conservation activities, which includes the designation of new MPAs under the Oceans Act and continuing work on developing new national parks and national marine conservation areas.

Through this investment, the Government of Canada will work with partners to increase the amount of Canada’s protected marine and coastal areas to 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020. The Government is dedicated to continuing to work with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous peoples, industry, academia, and environmental non-governmental organizations to meet its 2020 commitments.

Legend: Map showing the boundaries and management zones of the St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area.

June 2017

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