Laurentian Channel

Research objectives include, among others: advancing the understanding of the location, health and integrity of cold water corals and sponges; identifying important as well as sensitive marine benthic areas and habitats, and advancing the understanding of plankton variability in the area and locations of enhanced productivity supporting benthos in The Laurentian Channel Area of Interest.

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Several ecological and socioeconomic criteria inform the selection process of candidate areas for MPA designation and the definition of their conservation objectives. Once established, MPAs require cost-effective monitoring strategies to gauge the effectiveness of the management intervention in achieving its conservation objectives and to demonstrate a tangible contribution to the conservation of biodiversity. In many instances, data that inform the management decision process can be sparse, particularly in remote and difficult to sample locations, such as in deep water. The Laurentian Channel Area of Interest (AOI), off the continental shelf of Newfoundland and Labrador, is one of the largest AOIs in Canada (11908 km2; depths of 86 to 435m). Conservation objectives for this DFO AOI include the protection of deep-water corals (principally sea pens), as well as black dogfish, smooth skate, porbeagle shark, Northern wolffish and leatherback sea turtles. Using autonomous underwater and remotely operated vehicles, we will address several of the research objectives associated with the AOI and help develop strategies to enable DFO to generate effective monitoring indicators of status and identification of appropriate reference sites.

Project Deliverables / Achievements

  • A review of a cost analysis of global examples of Areas of interest (AOIs) and MPAs where monitoring programs have been developed to draw guidance on indicators and protocols for the Laurentian Channel AOI is completed.

  • A preliminary sampling approach and design is in progress.

  • Proposed cost-effective monitoring protocols and strategies for the Laurentian Channel AOI is in progress.

  • An initial draft of monitoring recommendations for NAFO closures is proposed.

  • Research cruise conducting ROPOS dives sampling at 7 planned sites with the CGGS Martha Black is completed.

  • Analyzing the samples; the cores, video transects and specimens collected; is in progress.

  • A time-lapse camera system was developed at NSCC for deployment at the Laurentian Channel site during the ROPOS operations.

  • A report for DFO entitled “A Critical Review of Monitoring Needs and Strategies for Marine Protected Areas and Areas of Interest in Newfoundland and Labrador” is completed.

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Laurentian Channel AOI