ARCHIVED — Vol. 149, No. 26 — June 27, 2015

Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas Regulations

Statutory authority

Oceans Act

Sponsoring department

Department of Fisheries and Oceans

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Executive summary

Issues: The hexactinellid (glass) sponge reefs, located between Haida Gwaii and the mainland of British Columbia in the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, are considered to be the only living example of the large glass sponge reefs that were abundant in the Jurassic Period. The reefs are made up of large colonies of glass sponges and are estimated to be 9 000 years old. They discontinuously cover an area of about 1 000 km2. The slow growth and fragility of these sponges make the reefs particularly vulnerable to damage and disturbance since recovery may take tens to several hundreds of years. Due to the highly sensitive nature and structure of the reefs, human activities in and around the reefs could pose a risk to the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the reefs. Designating a Marine Protected Area (MPA) under the Oceans Act to conserve and protect the reefs would provide the regulatory mechanism to prohibit those human activities that are not compatible with the conservation objective of the MPA (i.e. the conservation and protection of the biological diversity, structural habitat, and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs).

Description: The Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas Regulations (the proposed Regulations), under the Oceans Act, would designate four sponge reefs collectively as a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The proposed Regulations would set out general prohibitions to protect the reefs while allowing exceptions for specific activities that do not compromise the MPA conservation objective.

The MPA would comprise three spatially distinct components to encompass the northern reef, the two central reefs, and the southern reef. Each component would have three management zones: a core protection zone (CPZ), an adaptive management zone (AMZ) and a vertical adaptive management zone (VAMZ). Together, the establishment of these zones, and the associated prohibitions, would provide for the conservation and protection of the biological diversity, structural habitat and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs through the management of human activities.

Cost-benefit statement: Designating the MPA would benefit Canadians through the safeguarding of a globally unique biological phenomenon that is known to provide habitat to numerous aquatic species, including those of commercial value. Protection of the reefs as an MPA is consistent with the Government of Canada’s priority for responsible resource development. MPAs have been demonstrated to function as both a refuge and a source of commercially and socially valuable marine species, and, when used to complement other ecosystem-based management approaches, can serve to maintain and even enhance economic opportunities, such as fishing and tourism.

Costs related to the designation of the MPA would be associated with displacement of fishing from the CPZ and the implementation of compliance measures within the AMZ and the VAMZ. Costs are not anticipated to significantly affect the fishing industry’s ability to function in the vicinity and generate revenue.

While most of these benefits are qualitative and non-monetary, it is considered that the benefits generated through MPA designation would greatly outweigh its costs, due to the ability of industry to absorb the relatively small direct impacts identified for the MPA.

“One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: Neither the “One-for-One” Rule nor the small business lens applies to this regulatory proposal. No new administrative burden is expected as a result of the creation of these new MPA regulations, and the expected incremental costs to industry are well below the $1 million threshold that would trigger application of the small business lens.

Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: Designating these areas as an MPA would contribute to the fulfilment of Canada’s objectives under Canada’s Oceans Strategy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Sustainable Fisheries Framework, the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, Canada’s Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy, the National Framework for Canada’s Network of Marine Protected Areas, and the Pacific Region Cold-Water Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy 2010–2015. Designating this MPA will further demonstrate Canada’s resolve to fulfill its international targets under the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), the G8 Marine Environment and Tanker Safety Action Plan (2003), the Durban Action Plan developed at the Fifth World Parks Congress (2003), the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2004 Programme of Work on Protected Areas, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (2006), the 4th International Union for Conservative of Nature World Conservation Congress (2008), and the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010), as well as United Nations resolutions calling for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Background

Discovery

The Geological Survey of Canada discovered the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs in the late 1980s. The reefs discontinuously cover an area of over 1 000 km2 and are found in an area of relatively undisturbed seafloor at 140–240 m depths. Prior to their discovery, reefs of this size were thought to be extinct. These reefs are therefore considered to be globally unique.

Ecological significance

The sponges impede the movement of and trap sediments from the moderate bottom currents that deliver suspended sediments and nutrients that contribute to reef growth and productivity. The ocean conditions necessary to allow such large reefs to develop are uncommon, and the fragility of the reefs make them susceptible to damage from human activity. With skeletons made of silica (i.e. glass), these sponges are very fragile and extremely susceptible to damage from physical contact stemming from human activity.

The sponge reefs provide refuge, habitat, and nursery grounds for aquatic species, including commercially important rockfish and other finfish and shellfish species. The sponge reefs also provide an important water filtration service. Physical damage to the sponges may kill individual sponges or other reef dwelling organisms. It may also destroy parts of the actual reefs and remove habitat that is used by other aquatic organisms. Increased sedimentation adjacent to the sponges beyond what occurs naturally could cause smothering and negatively impact the health and reproduction of the sponges, potentially leading to decreased water filtration or sponge death and compromising reef stability.

The reefs are ancient structures, with the base of the oldest sponge reef studied dated at approximately 9 000 years old. Each sponge may live for over 200 years, and the slow growth and vulnerability of the sponges suggests that recovery from damage may take tens to several hundreds of years.

The glass sponge reefs have been identified as an ecologically and biologically significant area (EBSA) (see footnote 1) within the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) located in the marine waters off central and northern British Columbia.

Socio-economic significance

There is little human activity in and around the vicinity of the reefs, due to their remote location and depth. The primary use of these areas is by commercial fishers, notably for trapping prawn and shrimp, for bottom longline and bottom trawling for groundfish, and for midwater trawling for hake. The bottom trawl fishery has been excluded from direct contact with the reefs through fisheries closures under the Fisheries Act since 2002, and fishers had voluntarily stopped entering these areas two years prior to the closures. While prawn and shrimp trapping and bottom longline fishing continue to occur within the designated areas, the harvest obtained from these areas comprises less than 0.5% of the overall harvest of the above-mentioned fisheries. Midwater trawl occurs above the reef and, by its nature, is not intended to result in bottom contact. Crab trapping currently occurs adjacent to the reefs but not within the proposed MPA boundaries. However, effort by this fishery has increased significantly since 2010, and the sector has been invited to engage in discussions about proposed management measures to ensure compliance should its activities start to overlap into the proposed protected areas.

There is interest from certain companies to undertake both renewable and non-renewable energy projects within the boundaries of the proposed MPA, in particular the development of undersea cable routes for energy transmission, or oil and gas tenures. There are currently no production activities underway for either the renewable or non-renewable energy sectors. The one company working to produce renewable energy (wind) is still in a developmental phase, and no offshore petroleum extraction is expected for the foreseeable future, given the presence of federal and provincial moratoria on offshore oil and gas production activities in British Columbia.

Currently there are no commercial marine tourism activities operating in the vicinity of the proposed MPA, and there is no expectation for new business opportunities in this sector in the next three to five years.

Proposal for MPA designation

In 2010, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans officially identified the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs as an Area of Interest (AOI) for possible MPA designation within the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA). Designation would meet the direction provided by the Pacific Region Cold-Water Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy 2010–2015, which identifies the use of MPAs as an effective and appropriate tool to protect corals and sponges in Pacific Canada.

Following the AOI announcement, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (the Department) undertook an analysis of the ecological, social, economic and cultural values in the area and an assessment of the pressures from human activities and their impact on the biological diversity, structural habitat and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs. The outcome of this analysis formed the basis of consultation with affected and interested stakeholders and partners and informed the development of the proposed Regulations. The proposed Regulations describe the MPA as three spatially distinct areas named the Northern Reef Marine Protected Area, the Central Reefs Marine Protected Area and the Southern Reef Marine Protected Area, which collectively cover approximately 2 410 km2. Within each proposed area are three management zones: a core protection zone (CPZ), an adaptive management zone (AMZ), and a vertical adaptive management zone (VAMZ). Together, the establishment of these zones and the associated prohibitions would provide for the conservation and protection of the biological diversity, structural habitat and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs. The proposed Regulations set out general prohibitions against the disturbance, damage, destruction or removal of living marine organisms or any parts of their habitats with exceptions for specific activities in specified zones that do not compromise the conservation objective identified for the MPA.

Issues

Glass sponges are very fragile and susceptible to damage from direct physical contact. Such damage may kill individual sponges or other reef-dwelling organisms and may destroy parts of the reef itself, thereby removing habitat that is used by other aquatic organisms. Increased sediments in the water column beyond what occurs naturally may cause smothering and negatively impact the viability of the sponges, leading to decreased water filtration or sponge death, and compromise reef stability. According to findings and research documented in reports by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat and in external peer-reviewed literature, fishing with bottom-contacting gear has been identified as a key activity that can cause sponge damage.

The glass sponge reefs of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound are at risk from the potential impacts of human activities that can cause mechanical damage or increased sedimentation beyond what occurs naturally. Activities that have been identified as having the potential to negatively impact the glass sponge reefs include commercial fishing by bottom trawl, midwater trawl, hook and line, and traps or pots; cable or pipe laying; and construction and development of seafloor structures for renewable or non-renewable energy development. Of these activities, only fishing by bottom trawl and non-renewable energy development are currently prohibited through a fishery closure under the Fisheries Act (in 2002) and federal and provincial oil and gas moratoria. The other activities are presently allowed to be carried out in the contemplated areas. Voluntary measures alone have proven to be insufficient for the protection of the glass sponge reefs. While federal and provincial moratoria currently exist in these areas regarding non- renewable energy development, there is no overarching framework in place to limit or mitigate the impacts of existing or emerging human activities.

The proposed Regulations would, subject to certain exceptions, prohibit

  • carrying out any activity that disturbs, damages, destroys or removes any living marine organism or any part of its habitat or is likely to do so; or
  • carrying out any scientific research or monitoring, or an educational activity, unless it is part of an activity plan that has been approved by the Minister.

The proposed Regulations target the long-term protection of this fragile, ecologically significant and globally unique ecosystem.

Objectives

The proposed Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs MPA would be established based on an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach for the PNCIMA, within which the reefs are located. EBM is an adaptive approach to managing human activities in a manner that ensures the coexistence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities. Within the PNCIMA, the intent of EBM is to maintain spatial and temporal characteristics of ecosystems such that component species and ecological processes can be sustained, and human well-being supported and improved.

The MPA advisory committee agreed to work towards the following conservation objective and management approaches.

The conservation objective of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area is to conserve and protect the biological diversity, structural habitat and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs. This would be achieved through

  • The management of human activities: Human activities in the MPA shall be managed to ensure that the biological diversity, structural habitat, and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs are conserved and protected;
  • Understanding the ecosystem state: A comprehensive understanding of biodiversity, the ecosystem state, and the background variability of the glass sponge reefs would be informed by the best available science, knowledge and information;
  • A monitoring program: Monitoring and evaluation would be used to support the achievement of the conservation objective for the MPA; and
  • Adaptive management: An adaptive management approach would ensure that effective, timely and appropriate management responses would contribute to meeting the conservation objective for the MPA.

Description

The Regulations are being proposed under Canada’s Oceans Act and would designate three marine protected areas, namely the Northern Reef, the Central Reefs and the Southern Reef, as the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas. The MPA would cover a discontinuous area of approximately 2 410 km2.

Boundaries and zoning of the MPAs

The proposed Regulations would establish the boundaries of the MPAs and of their various zones and identify activities (e.g. scientific research and monitoring, educational activities, or laying of cables) that may be allowed to be carried out within the boundaries of certain zones. The outer boundary of the MPAs and the internal management zone boundaries are rhumb lines (a navigational term meaning a line crossing all meridians of longitude at the same angle) described as follows:

  • Core protection zone (CPZ): This type of zone contains the sponge reefs and is designed to mitigate the risk of direct impacts to the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs by prohibiting bottom contact activities. The CPZ would consist of the seabed and subsoil to a depth of 20 m and the water column from the seabed to a minimum of 40 m from the highest point of each reef (varies between reef areas). The CPZ provides the highest degree of protection within the MPA.
  • Adaptive management zone (AMZ): This type of zone surrounds the CPZ and is designed to mitigate the risk of indirect impacts to the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs.
  • Vertical adaptive management zone (VAMZ): This type of zone is designed to mitigate the risk of indirect impacts to the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs in the area directly above the CPZ. It extends above the horizontal extent of the CPZ, comprising the height of the water column from the vertical extent of the CPZ to the sea surface.

Through an adaptive management approach, the impacts of allowed activities would be monitored and assessed over a period of time. Additional measures may be required, or operations modified, where impacts are found to be more significant than originally anticipated (or less significant).

Prohibitions

The proposed Regulations would, subject to certain exceptions, prohibit the disturbance, damage, destruction or removal of any living marine organism or any part of its habitat in the MPA. This includes protection of the seabed and subsoil to a depth of 20 m because this is considered the depth of the active biological layer necessary for reef development.

Furthermore, the Regulations would prohibit the carrying out of any scientific research or monitoring, or any educational activity, in the MPA, unless it is part of an activity plan that has been approved by the Minister.

Exceptions

The proposed Regulations would include exceptions to allow certain activities within the MPA under specified conditions. Within the Regulations, identified activities would be allowed to be carried out through specific exceptions to the general prohibitions and, where required, the submission of activity plans for specified activities to Fisheries and Oceans Canada for ministerial approval, in accordance with specified conditions.

Safety and security

Throughout the MPA, activities for the purpose of public safety, national defence, national security, law enforcement or responding to an emergency would be allowed to be carried out. Such activities may include, among others, search and rescue operations or responding to an incident resulting in the release of unauthorized hazardous waste.

Fishing

Certain fishing activities would be allowed within the AMZ and VAMZ only, provided the fishing is not likely to result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs, and is carried out in accordance with the Fisheries Act or the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act or regulations made under those Acts. In order to conserve and protect the glass sponge reefs, commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fishing would not be allowed within the CPZ.

Commercial fishing

In the AMZ and the VAMZ, fishing would continue to be regulated in accordance with the Fisheries Act, the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and regulations made under those Acts. In the VAMZ, fishing would be restricted to midwater fishing only (fisheries that use midwater trawl, midwater hook and line, seine, or gillnet gear) and no fishing gear could extend below the bottom of the VAMZ boundary into the CPZ.

Commercial fishing within the designated areas that is consistent with the proposed Regulations would continue to be subject to the applicable licences and permits obtained under the Fisheries Act or the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. Fishing activities would be managed in accordance with integrated fisheries management plans, annual variation orders, regulations and licence conditions in a manner consistent with the conservation objective for the MPA.

Recreational fishing

Recreational fishing would be allowed to be carried out in the AMZ and VAMZ in accordance with the Fisheries Act and its regulations. In the VAMZ, fishing would be restricted to midwater hook and line only, as long as the gear does not extend below the bottom of the VAMZ boundary.

Recreational fishing activities would be managed in accordance with integrated fisheries management plans, annual variation orders, regulations and licence conditions in a manner consistent with the conservation objective for the MPA.

Aboriginal fishing

Fishing by Aboriginal peoples would continue in the AMZ and VAMZ subject to the applicable authorizations, licences and permits obtained under the Fisheries Act or the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act or regulations made under those acts, in a manner consistent with the conservation objective for the MPA.

To help realize the conservation objective of the MPA, the Regulations would not allow fishing by Aboriginal peoples in the CPZ.

Vessel traffic

Vessel navigation in the AMZ and VAMZ would be allowed to be carried out in accordance with the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations, provided that the vessel’s anchor does not enter the CPZ.

Cable installation

Cable laying, maintenance or repair would be allowed only in the AMZ if it is not likely to result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs.

Activities requiring an activity plan

Scientific research or monitoring and educational activities may occur within specific zones of the MPA under specified conditions. To ensure that activities undertaken in the MPA are consistent with the conservation objective, an activity plan that contains specified information related to the activities would have to be submitted to and approved by the Minister. The potential impacts of a proposed activity would be considered in the context of cumulative environmental effects of all past and current activities carried out within the MPA.

In order to evaluate the impact of the proposed activities on the glass sponge reefs, submitted activity plans would have to contain information regarding (1) the name of the person responsible for the proposed activity; (2) the name of the vessel(s) proposed to carry out the activity; (3) the proposed dates of entry into and exit from the MPA and geographic coordinates of the sites of proposed activity; (4) a list of any substances that may be deposited during the proposed activity in the Marine Protected Areas — other than substances that are authorized by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations to be deposited in the navigation of a vessel — and the quantity and concentration of each substance; (5) a detailed description of the activity and its purpose; (6) a general description of any anticipated studies, reports or other work that would result from the proposed activity and anticipated date of completion; (7) a description of any scientific research or monitoring, or educational activities, that the person has previously carried out in the MPA or anticipates carrying out; and (8) a description of any measures that will be taken to monitor, avoid, minimize or mitigate any environmental effects of the proposed activity.

In the proposed approach, the Minister would approve or not approve an activity plan within 60 days from the day the plan is submitted. Submitters could amend their activity plan at any time before it is approved or not approved by the Minister; however, where an amended plan is submitted, the time for evaluation would be reset to 60 days regardless of the date of the proposed activity.

Scientific research and monitoring

The Minister would approve an activity plan or amended activity plan if the scientific research or monitoring would increase knowledge of the biological diversity, structural habitat or ecosystem function of the MPA; assist in the management of those areas; or assist in evaluating the effectiveness of any measures taken to conserve and protect the MPA. The Minister would not approve an activity plan if the activity set out in the plan is likely to adversely impact the biological, chemical or oceanographic processes that maintain or enhance the biodiversity, structural habitat or ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs in the MPA.

Education

The Minister would approve an activity plan or amended activity plan if the educational activities set out in the plan and to be carried out in the AMZ and/or VAMZ would increase public awareness of the MPA and would not likely result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs in the MPA.

Cumulative environmental effects

The Minister would not approve an activity plan if any cumulative environmental effects of the proposed activity, in combination with any other past and current activities carried out in the Marine Protected Areas, are likely to adversely impact the biological, chemical or oceanographic processes that maintain or enhance the biological diversity, structural habitat or ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs.

Deleterious substances

The Minister would not approve an activity plan if any substances that may be deposited during the proposed activity are described in paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition of “deleterious substance” in subsection 34(1) of the Fisheries Act.

Studies and data

In order to assist in the continued conservation and protection of the glass sponge reefs ecosystem, any person whose activity plan is approved by the Minister would have to provide the Minister with a copy of any study, report or other work, together with the data, that results from the activity and is related to the conservation and protection of the MPA. The copy of the study, report or other work, and the data, would have to be provided to the Minister within 90 days of the completion of the study, report or other work. If the study, report or other work is not completed within a period of three years from the last day of the scientific research or monitoring activity or educational activity, the person would have to submit the data that result from the activity to the Minister within 90 days after that period.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

Status quo

The proposed Regulations are required in addition to the existing regulatory mechanisms to conserve and protect the glass sponge reefs and their ecosystem functions. Although certain marine activities may be regulated under provisions of the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and other federal legislation, a particular unifying authority (i.e. an MPA designation) is considered necessary to conserve and protect the reefs, and in particular to prohibit certain classes of activities to protect this ecosystem from current and potential future pressures. The status quo fails to provide an appropriate level of comprehensive and enduring protection.

Voluntary measures

Voluntary measures alone have been proven to be insufficient for the protection of the glass sponge reefs. In 2000, the groundfish trawl fishery implemented a voluntary closure as a means to protect the reefs from physical contact with bottom-contact gear. However, interactions were not sufficiently decreased, and in 2002, a closure was implemented under the Fisheries Act.

Additionally, a voluntary approach does not provide a regulatory regime and accompanying management measures, making monitoring and enforcement difficult, if not impossible, for managers.

MPA designated under the Oceans Act

An MPA designated under the Oceans Act is considered to be the most appropriate tool currently available to provide the protection required for the glass sponge reefs because it is the only option that prioritizes their protection through the management of multiple human activities over the long term.

While the proposed Regulations would provide the primary tool for protecting the MPA, they would in no way lessen the environmental provisions of other legislation, regulations and policies that otherwise contribute to reef protection through an integrated management approach.

Benefits and costs

Benefits

Designation of the MPA would benefit Canadians through the safeguarding of a globally unique biological phenomenon, which is known to provide habitat to numerous aquatic species, including those of commercial value. Designation would serve to mitigate direct and indirect risks to the glass sponge reefs in a comprehensive, long-term manner, providing certainty and an integrated management approach for marine users.

The MPA would also allow ongoing research to improve understanding of the function and interaction of species, communities and ecosystems, and to establish an environmental baseline for monitoring to inform adaptive and responsible resource management.

Canadians

There is likely to be an increase to the indirect and non-use values associated with MPA designation, but as these are non-market values, they are not easily quantified. However, the existence of these values would benefit consumer surplus, as non-market value associated with enhanced protection is derived from the value society places on the reefs and their current and future contribution to a strong and healthy ecosystem.

Fisheries

Benefits to fisheries may include increases in direct use value and producer surplus, due to the potential for positive harvest spillover to areas adjacent to the MPA that may result from an increase in stock abundance within the protected areas. While the probability of spillover from this specific MPA is unknown, evidence of benefits from spillover has been demonstrated in other MPAs worldwide. MPAs have been demonstrated to function as refugia and a source of commercially and socially valuable marine species; when used to complement other ecosystem-based management approaches, they can serve to maintain and even enhance economic opportunities for the fishing industry.

Government

Additional benefits may exist for the federal government. Designation would provide Canada with international recognition for its ongoing commitment to marine protection and resolve to fulfill its international targets for ocean management and marine conservation. Designation would also contribute to Canada meeting its objectives under Canada’s Oceans Strategy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Sustainable Fisheries Framework, the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, Canada’s Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy, the National Framework for Canada’s Network of Marine Protected Areas, and the Pacific Region Cold-Water Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy 2010–2015.

Efforts and costs associated with sustainable resource management in general, and management of the MPA in particular, may be reduced by the increased level of awareness of the reefs among stakeholders. Further, designation would clarify long-term management of and administrative responsibility for these important areas, providing greater certainty for marine resource users.

Costs

The Department’s approach to estimating the costs of the proposed MPA designation has been to quantify the upper bounds of potential impacts. It is unlikely that the true costs of designating and implementing the MPA would be as high as the costs described below.

Government

As the lead authority for the MPA, Fisheries and Oceans Canada would bear the majority of costs. Ongoing and post-designation costs for Fisheries and Oceans Canada relate to the administration and management of the MPA, including the development and implementation of a management plan; ongoing enforcement, surveillance and monitoring of activities; information management and dissemination; and compliance promotion. The management and monitoring costs of an MPA vary between an estimated $100K and $200K per year.

Because fishing may occur within the AMZ and VAMZ, contingent on compliance with the MPA conservation objective, there would be fisheries management costs, in addition to MPA management costs. Within the AMZ, such costs would be related to the need to create and fund a monitoring system to ensure compliance with prohibitions within the zone. If such a system is not feasible, costs would be linked to the need to prohibit fishing activities that can impact the seafloor. Within the VAMZ, costs would be related to the need to create and fund a monitoring system to improve compliance with the prohibitions within the zone.

Fisheries

The proposed Regulations prohibit all fishing activity within the CPZ, while exempting fisheries operating in the AMZ and VAMZ from the prohibitions, subject to those fisheries meeting the conservation objective. Therefore, any costs to the fishing industry would be associated with activity displacement. No direct compliance costs are expected for fisheries operating in the AMZ or VAMZ, as there are no additional compliance measures required; however, there may be potential costs related to ensuring compliance with possible fisheries management measures within the MPA in the future.

Displacement

The costs associated with displacement from the CPZ would be minimal. Currently, only halibut and prawn trapping occurs within the boundary of the CPZ, and the share of total coast-wide catch originating in the CPZ for these two fisheries is very small (0.33% of the prawn fishery and 0.1% of the halibut fishery, from 2006 to 2013).

Because the closure would mean that the CPZ biomass would be lost to harvesters of the prawn by trap fishery, and because most of the best and easily available fishing ground is already fully subscribed, displacement would very likely lead to a reduced harvest. This translates into an annual loss of up to $66K for harvesters and $12K for processors (net present values of $813K and $154K, respectively, if discounted at 7% over 30 years).

No impact on harvest levels is expected for the halibut fishery. The quantities harvested are small enough that any exclusion from the CPZ is expected to lead to some displacement of effort, but not to catch reduction. It is not possible to know if the effort displacement would lead to extra search costs through such expenses as fuel and wages.

Compliance

There are no direct compliance costs associated with the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound glass sponge reefs MPA regulations. The halibut, bottom trawl, and prawn by trap fisheries are active within the AMZ and may experience costs associated with compliance with management decisions that are consistent with the MPA conservation objective. Industry-wide, these costs would be minimal as the share of total coast-wide catch originating in the AMZ for each of these fisheries is very small (0.59% of the halibut fishery, 0.09% of the bottom trawl and 0.02% of the prawn by trap). Fishing effort in the AMZ by the rockfish and lingcod fisheries is intermittent.

The only fishing activities that currently occur in the VAMZ are midwater hake and tuna fishing. The Regulations would not require any additional compliance measures (e.g. gear or ship modifications) to be put in place for any of these fisheries to be in compliance. There is no recurring annual use of these areas by the hake fishery and catch and effort over the reefs is often minimal to nil, especially for the tuna fishery. Hake was harvested from the VAMZ in 5 of the past 8 years, and tuna twice in the past 8 years. However, the distribution of hake in Canada is highly susceptible to change, as seen over the past 5–10 years.

Possible compliance costs to industry would be related to ensuring compliance with possible fisheries management measures within the MPA in the future. Due to uncertainty over measures required to protect the reefs, the total costs of any new compliance measures to industry are unknown at this time. However, a conceptual upper limit on these costs can be estimated as the net revenues generated for the owners of the fishing capital from the AMZ (i.e. <$186K, which represents a net present value of $2,317K if discounted at 7% over 30 years). If costs to implement compliance measures were to be higher, owners would simply forgo the revenue.

How any incremental costs should be borne between industry and Government would be discussed with stakeholders. Fisheries and Oceans Canada strives to balance regulatory management and enforcement approaches, including the promotion of compliance through education and shared stewardship, monitoring, control, and surveillance activities.

Shipping

The proposed Regulations recognize international navigational rights and would not place added restrictions on shipping other than prohibiting anchorage in the CPZ. Currently, vessels do not anchor in this area, so there is no expected additional cost. Existing controls under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, of other relevant Canadian legislation, and of the International Maritime Organization are consistent with the conservation objective of the MPA and will not result in increased costs to marine traffic in the MPA.

Scientific research, scientific monitoring, education

It is expected that increased interest in scientific research would result from the proposed MPA being established. Fisheries and Oceans Canada would encourage scientific research, monitoring, and education activities in the MPA. The proposed Regulations allow appropriate levels of access to the MPA for such activities, contingent upon ministerial approval of an activity plan. The added costs of the plan submission and approval process would be minimal, as would the associated reporting requirements.

Cable installation

Cable laying, maintenance or repair would be allowed only in the AMZ if it is not likely to result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs. No incremental costs are expected for cable installation, maintenance or repair activities from the proposed Regulations.

Oil and gas exploration

No offshore petroleum extraction is expected for the foreseeable future given the federal and provincial moratoria on offshore oil and gas production activities in British Columbia. Therefore, no incremental costs are expected for offshore oil and gas or seismic exploration activities from the proposed Regulations.

“One-for-One” Rule

The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, as there are no incremental changes to administrative costs to business. The expectation of no incremental administrative burden stems from the fact that no activities within the proposed MPA would be subject to any additional administration requirements resulting from these Regulations, other than scientific research, monitoring or educational activities. For those activities, the activity plan request asks for information that the proponents would likely already have to provide to Government in obtaining other required authorizations to do the work, so the administrative burden is considered negligible. It is anticipated that private sector businesses are generally unlikely to be proponents of scientific research, monitoring or educational activities in the MPA. Academia and non-profit organizations are not captured in the definition of a business.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, as any increased costs to small business as a result of these proposed Regulations would be minimal.

The costs associated with compliance with potential future incremental management measures show a potential annual impact to fisheries of less than $186,000 — well below the $1 million threshold. No specific administrative tasks or compliance costs, supplemental to existing measures under the Fisheries Act, are envisioned at this time.

The costs associated with displacement from the CPZ would be minimal. Currently, only the halibut and prawn by trap fisheries operate within the boundary of the CPZ, and the share of total coast-wide catch originating in the CPZ for each of these fisheries is very small (0.33% of the prawn fishery and 0.1% of the halibut fishery, from 2006 to 2013).

There were between 1 and 4 vessels fishing prawn by trap in the AOI between 2006 and 2013 (out of approximately 226 vessels coast wide). The prawn by trap fishery is managed at a coast-wide level, meaning vessels may fish for prawns anywhere on the coast where prawn fishing is permitted; vessels are not limited to particular fishery management areas or zones. Because the closure would mean that the CPZ biomass would be lost to harvesters, and because most of the best and easily available fishing ground is already fully subscribed, displacement would very likely lead to a reduced harvest. The fishery as a whole would bear the loss of that amount of harvest. It is not known how this cost would be distributed among vessels, though no disproportionate impact is expected, due to the small overall cost, and the coast-wide nature of the fishery.

No impact on harvest levels is expected for the halibut fishery. The quantities harvested are small enough that any exclusion from the CPZ is expected to lead to some displacement of effort, but not to catch reduction. It is not possible to know if the effort displacement would lead to extra search costs through such expenses as fuel and wages.

Decisions on any future fisheries management efforts will be made as part of management planning and plan implementation for the MPA, sometime after its designation. There are no direct compliance costs expected upon regulatory designation of the area for fisheries operating in the AMZ or VAMZ because decisions on potential future management measures would be made in consultation with stakeholder groups as part of MPA management planning.

Commercial fishing enterprises would not be affected by the requirement to submit an activity plan unless they intend to also carry out scientific research, scientific monitoring, and educational activities.

At present, there are no cable operations or offshore renewable energy operations in these areas; therefore, there is no additional burden at this time.

Consultation

The process that led to the development of these proposed Regulations has been open and transparent, consistent with the principles of sustainable development, and based on the best available information. All interested parties, including First Nations, federal and provincial government agencies, local governments, industry, and conservation organizations have participated in the process leading to the recommendation for the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas Regulations.

Area of Interest (AOI) proposal

Consultations for the proposal to identify the reefs as an AOI were initiated in January 2009. These consultations took place over several months and included presentations to multi-stakeholder groups and meetings with key stakeholders, First Nations, and governments. The consultation process culminated in an AOI proposal that had been widely reviewed by First Nations, federal and provincial government departments, local governments and stakeholders. The Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs were announced as an AOI in June 2010.

MPA designation

In September 2010, Fisheries and Oceans Canada held an initial consultation meeting as an open invitation for stakeholders to participate on a stakeholder advisory committee known as the Sponge Reef Advisory Committee (SRAC). The meeting was also held to develop draft terms of reference for the SRAC, and to have a general discussion of sector interests and activities in the vicinity of the AOI and the opportunities MPA designation could represent. The meeting was attended by representatives from the commercial fishing sector, recreational fishing sector, regional districts, marine conservation sector, renewable and non-renewable energy sectors, shipping and transportation sector, provincial government, and from Environment Canada, Transport Canada, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Coast Guard. The North Coast Skeena First Nation Stewardship Society participated as an observer.

Membership for the SRAC was formalized following this initial meeting as follows:

  • Commercial fishing sector (one member; two alternates)
  • Recreational fishing sector (one member; one alternate)
  • Marine conservation sector (one member; one alternate)
  • Non-renewable energy sector (one member; one alternate)
  • Renewable energy sector (one member)
  • Marine transportation sector (one member; one alternate)
  • Federal departments (Environment Canada, Transport Canada, Department of National Defence and Canadian Coast Guard)
  • Observers (province, regional districts, and First Nations)

From September 2010 through August 2011, the SRAC participated in the detailed development of the regulatory intent (i.e. regulatory approach) used to inform the drafting of the proposed Regulations. The SRAC was able to develop a consensus-based recommendation on the conservation objective for the MPA, provide notional support for a boundary, and provide detailed advice on allowable activities, which informed exceptions to the general prohibition of the proposed Regulations.

Additional bilateral consultations with other industry bodies were undertaken external to the SRAC to ensure that all interested parties were informed of progress on the development of the regulatory approach.

Concurrent bilateral consultations were undertaken with the Province of British Columbia and interested First Nations through email communications, telephone calls and in-person meetings. All materials discussed with the SRAC were also discussed bilaterally with the Province of British Columbia and First Nations for review and comment.

Key issues and concerns

Feedback received through the consultation process is summarized below by sector.

Other federal departments

The designation of the MPA is generally supported by other federal government departments. The departments and agencies that attended SRAC meetings and/or were consulted through bilateral meetings were Parks Canada, Environment Canada, Transport Canada, Natural Resources Canada and National Defence.

National Defence has agreed to work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada in the future to ensure its Formation Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) Manual aligns with the conservation objective of the MPA.

Environment Canada seeks continued engagement and alignment with Fisheries and Oceans Canada through its work to establish the proposed Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area.

No other issues were raised by other federal departments.

Province of British Columbia

The Province of British Columbia is generally supportive of the MPA designation. The Province initially raised concerns involving ownership of the seabed. It is the position of the Federal Crown that the areas of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound are beyond British Columbia’s provincial boundaries and are under federal ownership. However, this matter has since been dropped with respect to the designation of this MPA.

In addition to regular updates provided to the Province through the collaborative governance structures established under the Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and British Columbia Respecting the Implementation of Canada’s Oceans Strategy on the Pacific Coast of Canada (2004), regular bilateral meetings to discuss the MPA were held with representatives from various British Columbia ministries, including the Ministry of Environment; BC Parks; the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources; the Integrated Land Management Bureau (now the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Province has expressed a desire to be involved in future management of the MPA. While specific management structures would not be developed until after the MPA designation, the Province would be invited to participate, in accordance with the existing Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and British Columbia Respecting the Implementation of Canada’s Oceans Strategy on the Pacific Coast of Canada (2004).

First Nations

First Nations that have claimed traditional territory overlapping with the MPA generally support MPA designation.

First Nations meetings were held during the consultation process in 2011, and were attended by the Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Metlakatla, Nuxalk, and Wuikinuxv First Nations, the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society, and the Central Coast First Nations Technical Team. Through ongoing correspondence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff worked directly with representatives from the various groups to incorporate feedback on the conservation objective, boundaries and management measures for the proposed MPA. First Nations observers also attended select SRAC meetings. Attempts to meet with the Lax Kw’alaams Band were unsuccessful.

First Nations have identified the sponge reefs as areas of particular ecological importance that deserve special protection. Central Coast First Nations have indicated that they do not support bottom trawl fishing in any zone of the MPA, as is consistent with their general position against bottom trawling on the British Columbia coast. Fishing activities would be prohibited in the CPZ and management measures to mitigate potential risks posed by bottom contact fishing activities in the AMZ will be developed.

Targeted discussions with representatives from the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA) on the issue of food, social and ceremonial (FSC) fishing occurred in 2011 and again in 2014. The 2011 discussions and correspondence reflected support for the CPZ being closed to all fishing, including FSC fishing. The 2014 discussions and correspondence reflected continued support for prohibiting FSC fishing in the CPZ; however, a preference was expressed for those prohibitions to occur as a result of the CCLRA’s own decision-making processes rather than through the proposed Regulations.

Concern was expressed by First Nations regarding the importance of ensuring integration with other processes in these areas (e.g. PNCIMA, First Nations marine use planning).

First Nations seek continued engagement on the MPA initiative, particularly with respect to MPA management, and have identified the need for the development of appropriate mechanisms for ongoing consultation and cooperation on MPAs and MPA management.

Regional districts

Regional districts are generally supportive of the MPA designation.

The regional districts of Skeena-Queen Charlotte (SQCRD), Kitimat-Stikine and Central Coast were all invited to sit on the SRAC. Skeena-Queen Charlotte and Kitimat-Stikine nominated observers to the Committee. The primary concern of the regional districts is that the process should be integrated with other initiatives in these areas (particularly PNCIMA).

Non-renewable energy sector

The non-renewable energy sector is generally supportive of the MPA designation.

The primary concerns of the non-renewable energy sector, represented by Shell Canada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, are the accommodation of opportunity for horizontal directional drilling under the MPA and the zoning of the MPA in order for the area between the two central reefs to accommodate transmission cables and pipelines. To address the concern regarding transmission cables, the proposed Regulations allow cable laying and their repair under stated conditions in the AMZ, including the area between the two central reefs.

Concern was also expressed about whether seismic activity would be excluded from the MPA. It was determined that activities associated with oil and gas production, including seismic activity, would be prohibited under the general prohibitions in the proposed Regulations. Additionally, moratoria prohibiting offshore oil and gas activities in British Columbia remain in place. That decision could be revisited should regulatory regimes be established for these activities in the future.

With respect to the socio-economic overview and analysis report conducted by the Department for the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs area of interest, the industry indicated that the analysis did not explicitly consider the dollar value of potential hydrocarbon resources in these areas. Natural Resources Canada has undertaken this analysis in its report Economic and Strategic Significance of Conventional and Unconventional Oil and Gas Potential in Hecate Strait / Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs. The findings of this report were considered in the development of the proposed Regulations.

Renewable energy sector

The renewable energy sector is generally supportive of the MPA designation.

The sector was represented on the SRAC by representatives from the NaiKun Wind Energy Group. The main concern presented was that the area between the two central reefs should allow for the laying of transmission cables. This concern is addressed in the proposed Regulations through the general exception for cables in the AMZ, which allows for their use and repair under the stated conditions.

Shipping industry

The shipping industry is generally supportive of the MPA designation.

The sector was represented on the SRAC by the Port of Prince Rupert and the North West and Canada Cruise Association. Support was conditional provided that vessel traffic is allowed to occur within the MPA. Navigation in accordance with the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations would be allowed in both the AMZ and the VAMZ, provided the vessel’s anchor does not enter the CPZ.

Marine conservation sector

The marine conservation sector is strongly supportive of the MPA designation.

The marine conservation sector was represented on the SRAC by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society — British Columbia and the Living Oceans Society, both of which are members of the British Columbia Environmental Non-Governmental Organization Marine Planning Network. Additional consultation with the marine conservation sector took place through regular correspondence and bilateral meetings.

Concerns from this sector were identified over the allowance of industrial activities within the proposed MPA, and the perception that the precautionary approach would not be applied to the management of activities which present risks to the reef, especially sedimentation caused by bottom contact activities in the AMZ. These concerns would be addressed by a management approach that includes the proposed Regulations and a management plan that would both be based on assessments of the risks associated with human activities on the reefs. The proposed Regulations would prohibit any industrial activities, such as fishing or oil and gas activities, from occurring in the CPZ.

The marine conservation sector seeks continued engagement on the MPA initiative, particularly with respect to MPA management.

Commercial fishing industry

The commercial fishing industry is generally supportive of the MPA designation.

Commercial fishing interests were represented on the SRAC, and stakeholders were also consulted in bilateral meetings. The sectors that attended SRAC meetings or were consulted through bilateral meetings were the Canadian Groundfish Research and Conservation Society, the Area ‘A’ Crab Association, the Herring Conservation and Research Society, the United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union, the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association, and the Pacific Halibut Management Association. Presentations and email updates were also made to various commercial fishing advisory committees, including the Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board, the Groundfish Forum, the Groundfish Trawl Advisory Committee, the Prawn Sectoral and Shrimp Sectoral advisory committees, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the Groundfish Hook and Line Advisory Committee, the Sablefish Advisory Committee, and the Tuna Advisory Board.

The industry expressed concern that the process was rushed and not well integrated with other processes in the area. Moreover, they were concerned about the manner in which scientific information was presented and subsequently utilized in the decisionmaking process. This was especially noted in terms of varying views about the precautionary approach, namely the opinion of industry that there is currently no evidence of serious or irreversible harm from bottom contact activities in the AMZ, and that the approach utilized should allow for acceptable risk while additional research is undertaken, instead of adopting a zero risk approach. Efforts were made to allow sufficient opportunity for input, including giving Fisheries and Oceans Canada more time to perform additional scientific analysis to inform the boundaries of the MPA and allowing for further opportunity for the SRAC to achieve consensus.

To address concerns related to integration with other processes, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been utilizing a subgroup of the existing Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board for preliminary discussions on proposed management measures in the AMZ and the VAMZ, to inform the development of a management plan. Membership of this subgroup has been expanded to include representatives of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board, the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Living Oceans Society, and the David Suzuki Foundation to ensure all current interests are represented.

To better understand possible risks from bottom contact activities, Fisheries and Oceans Canada initiated a Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat process to examine the effects of sedimentation on the glass sponge reefs in Hecate Strait. The science advisory report and associated research documents are available on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat publications Web site: http://www.isdm-gdsi.gc.ca/csas-sccs/applications/Publications/index-eng.asp.

Recreational fishing sector

The recreational fishing sector is generally supportive of the MPA designation.

Members of the recreational fishing sector were represented on the SRAC, but the voluntary nature of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board and the locations of the meetings precluded their ability to attend regularly.

Presentations and an email update regarding the MPA proposal were made to the North Coast Sport Fishing Advisory Board and the Main Board of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board. Additional email and telephone correspondence was also used to engage the recreational fishing sector. Representatives from the recreational fishing sector are present at the Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board subgroup meetings discussing proposed management measures in the AMZ and the VAMZ.

Rationale

As per the approach described in the National Framework for Establishing and Managing Marine Protected Areas (1999), an overview and assessment of the area of interest was undertaken to determine the ecological, social, economic, and cultural significance of the glass sponge reefs. This information, which is summarized in the paragraphs below, supported the development of this regulatory initiative.

Ecological significance

The existence and formation of the reefs require a combination of unique geological conditions and the presence of particular reef-forming species of glass sponges. Small patches of reefs grow over time and coalesce to form large, irregular structures covering a discontinuous area of 1 000 km2 and extending to 25 m in height. They are located in glacial troughs at depths between 140 m and 240 m and occur in areas with large, steep reef mounds and ridges and vast, flat sponge meadows. The sponges that make up the glass sponge reefs are unique habitat-forming species, long-lived and highly sensitive to disturbance, and are known to be nursery grounds for commercially important rockfish, finfish and shellfish species.

The MPA designation would provide a broad-based umbrella of long-term protection to safeguard this unique and fragile marine feature, to prevent species loss and allow ecosystem concerns to be addressed in a comprehensive manner through proactive regulation and integrated management.

Social and economic significance

The Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound glass sponge reefs are nationally and globally recognized as an important and exceptional marine habitat. General public support for the MPA has been high, as Canadians increasingly recognize the importance of proactive marine conservation and biodiversity protection. This public enthusiasm is exemplified by hundreds of letters encouraging protection written to the Department.

MPAs in general have been shown to result in a number of social and economic benefits such as sustainable fisheries, enhanced recreational opportunities, more effective outreach and education, and enhanced research and monitoring opportunities. The designation of this MPA may help support these social and economic benefits as well.

Currently, scientific knowledge about deep sea and glass sponge reef ecosystems and the factors influencing them is limited. As a relatively undisturbed and unique ecosystem, the MPA would serve as an important reference area that supports research opportunities, allows for a better understanding of the ecological processes at work in glass sponge environments, and improves understanding of their importance to fish and invertebrates.

Cultural significance

The MPA falls within claimed traditional territories for a number of coastal First Nations, as its boundaries overlap those identified in statements of intent filed with the British Columbia Treaty Commission by the Tsimshian First Nations (Gitga’at, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum and Metlakatla), the Heiltsuk First Nation and the Wuikinuxv First Nation. All of these groups are currently engaged in marine planning processes for their claimed traditional territories. The sponge reefs are of particular interest to the Gitxaala First Nation, the Gitga’at First Nation, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, the Heiltsuk First Nation, and the Wuikinuxv First Nation. The following sections were provided by First Nations groups to reflect their views of the cultural significance of the glass sponge reefs.

Gitxaala First Nation

Gitxaala First Nation representatives maintain the following:

“Specifically, the northern and central reef areas have an important place in the history of the Gitxaala people. Through discussions with Gitxaala Elders it is also evident that these areas have great significance to the spiritual connection that the Gitxaala people have with their territory. The stories and history of these special places have been passed down from generation to generation and continue to be an integral part of Gitxaala’s culture. Protection of these reefs would assist Gitxaala with the protection and perseverance of its status of a unique people with a unique culture.”

Gitga’at First Nation

Gitga’at First Nation representatives maintain the following:

“The Hecate Strait portion of the Gitga’at First Nation territory is an important area for harvesting their traditional foods, and vital nursery and rearing habitat for the fish, plants and animals that sustain the Gitga’at people. Gitga’at First Nation traditional knowledge tells them that their outer waters are important areas that need to be protected. Contemporary science has not always agreed with their assessments but the Gitga’at people look to marine planning and protected area processes as a way to combine their efforts to do their best to ensure the sustainability of all of their resources.”

Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation

Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation representatives maintain the following:

“The marine resources in Kitasoo/Xai’xais territory have sustained their people since time immemorial. As a people, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais have practiced ‘balance’ in managing their marine resources, ensuring sustainable use that benefits current and future generations. The central sponge reef areas off of Aristazable and Price Islands are important ecological and nursery areas for many species integral to the Kitasoo/Xai’xais traditional diet. Protection of the sponge reefs would help contribute to the long term sustainability of, and access to, many species important to the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation.”

Heiltsuk First Nation

Heiltsuk First Nation representatives maintain the following:

“The Heiltsuk people and their culture are inextricably linked to the marine environment and resources. Gvi’ilas, or ‘laws of the Heiltsuk,’ have ensured that the ocean has provided for generations of Heiltsuk people. The central and southern sponge reef areas in Queen Charlotte Sound are important ecological and nursery areas for many species integral to the Heiltsuk traditional diet. Through the long-term protection of the sponge reefs the Heiltsuk would contribute to continued access to many species important to their Nation.”

Wuikinuxv First Nation

Wuikinuxv First Nation representatives maintain the following:

“The Wuikinuxv have always believed that everything is connected, that they are part of the ecosystem, and that their actions affect its natural balance. This belief has guided the Wuikinuxv’s management of marine resources in their territory since time immemorial. The southern sponge reef area in Queen Charlotte Sound is important to the long-term sustainability of many species important to the Wuikinuxv people and its protection is an important step toward a return to the natural balance that would ensure marine resources so integral to the Wuikinuxv are there for future generations.”

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

Complementary to the direction provided by the proposed Regulations, an MPA management plan would be developed following designation, providing management direction on implementing the proposed Regulations, and detailing a comprehensive set of conservation and management measures for the MPA. The management plan would clearly define the MPA’s purpose and management direction and would address matters such as monitoring, enforcement, compliance, and stewardship. It would also provide the detail required to ensure that the rationale for management decisions and approvals is clearly justified and understood.

The plan would also describe and define the roles and responsibilities of any advisory bodies that may be established following MPA designation to provide advice to Fisheries and Oceans Canada regarding MPA management.

As the lead federal authority for the MPA, Fisheries and Oceans Canada would have overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with, and enforcement of, the proposed Regulations. This would be undertaken through the Department’s legislated mandate and responsibilities under the Oceans Act and the Fisheries Act, as well as other departmental legislation regarding fisheries conservation, environmental protection, habitat protection and marine safety. Enforcement officers designated by the Minister according to section 39 of the Oceans Act would enforce the proposed Regulations for these areas. Enforcement of the proposed Regulations and offences would be dealt with under section 37 of the Oceans Act.

Contravention of the proposed Regulations would carry fines of up to $500,000 under section 37 of the Oceans Act. Contraventions of activity approvals and conditions could also result in charges under other applicable Canadian legislation.

In general, compliance with the proposed Regulations is anticipated to be high. This assessment is based on current industry practice in relation to the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound glass sponge reefs and cooperation from partner marine agencies.

Performance measurement and evaluation

A detailed conservation objective and indicators focused on the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs would be identified for the MPA and outlined in a management plan. A monitoring plan, including indicators and associated impact thresholds developed using a risk-based approach, would provide the mechanism to determine the effectiveness of management measures in the MPA and whether the conservation objective is being met. The management plan would be reviewed every five years.

Contact

Victoria Sheppard
Acting Manager
Marine Conservation Program
Integrated Oceans Management Branch
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
200 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6

PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT

Notice is given that the Governor in Council, pursuant to subsection 35(3) of the Oceans Act (see footnote a), proposes to make the annexed Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas Regulations.

Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Victoria Sheppard, Acting Manager, Marine Conservation Programs, Integrated Oceans Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 200 Kent Street, 12E213, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E6 (tel.: 613-998-8942; email: Victoria.Sheppard@dfo-mpo.gc.ca).

Ottawa, June 18, 2015

JURICA ČAPKUN
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council

HECATE STRAIT AND QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND GLASS SPONGE REEFS MARINE PROTECTED AREAS REGULATIONS

INTERPRETATION

Definitions

1. (1) The following definitions apply in these Regulations.

“glass sponge reefs”
« récifs d’éponges siliceuses »

“glass sponge reefs” means the glass sponge reefs that lie within the Marine Protected Areas.

“Marine Protected Areas”
« zones de protection marine »

“Marine Protected Areas” means the areas of the sea that are designated by section 2.

Geographical coordinates

(2) In the Schedules, all geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude) are expressed in the North America Datum 1983 (NAD 83) geodetic reference system.

DESIGNATION

Marine Protected Areas

2. (1) The following areas of the sea are designated as the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas:

  • (a) the Northern Reef Marine Protected Area, depicted in Schedule 1 and bounded by a series of rhumb lines drawn from points A to L, the coordinates of which are set out in that Schedule, and then back to point A;
  • (b) the Central Reefs Marine Protected Area, depicted in Schedule 1 and bounded by a series of rhumb lines drawn from points M to Y, the coordinates of which are set out in that Schedule, and then back to point M; and
  • (c) the Southern Reef Marine Protected Area, depicted in Schedule 1 and bounded by a series of rhumb lines drawn from points Z to EE, the coordinates of which are set out in that Schedule, and then back to point Z.

Seabed, subsoil and water column

(2) Each Marine Protected Area consists of the seabed, the subsoil to a depth of 20 m and the water column above the seabed.

MARINE PROTECTED AREAS

NORTHERN REEF MARINE PROTECTED AREA

Northern Reef Marine Protected Area

3. (1) The Northern Reef Marine Protected Area consists of a core protection zone, a vertical adaptive management zone and an adaptive management zone.

Core protection zone

(2) The core protection zone consists of the seabed, the subsoil to a depth of 20 m and the water column above the seabed to a depth of 100 m below the sea surface. The boundaries of the core protection zone are represented by a series of rhumb lines drawn from points 1 to 12, the coordinates of which are set out in Schedule 2, and then back to point 1.

Vertical adaptive management zone

(3) The vertical adaptive management zone consists of the water column that extends above the core protection zone to the sea surface.

Adaptive management zone

(4) The adaptive management zone consists of the seabed, subsoil and waters of the Northern Reef Marine Protected Area that are not part of the core protection zone or the vertical adaptive management zone.

CENTRAL REEFS MARINE PROTECTED AREA

Central Reefs Marine Protected Area

4. (1) The Central Reefs Marine Protected Area is composed of two core protection zones (Zone A and Zone B), two vertical adaptive management zones and an adaptive management zone.

Core protection zone (Zone A)

(2) Zone A consists of the seabed, the subsoil to a depth of 20 m and the water column above the seabed to a depth of 120 m below the sea surface. The boundaries of Zone A are represented by a series of rhumb lines drawn from points 13 to 23, the coordinates of which are set out in Schedule 3, and then back to point 13.

Core protection zone (Zone B)

(3) Zone B consists of the seabed, the subsoil to a depth of 20 m and the water column above the seabed to a depth of 120 m below the sea surface. The boundaries of Zone B are represented by a series of rhumb lines drawn from points 24 to 32, the coordinates of which are set out in Schedule 3, and then back to point 24.

Vertical adaptive management zones

(4) The vertical adaptive management zones consist of the water columns that extend above Zone A and Zone B to the sea surface.

Adaptive management zone

(5) The adaptive management zone consists of the seabed, subsoil and waters of the Central Reefs Marine Protected Area that are not part of the core protection zones or the vertical adaptive management zones.

SOUTHERN REEF MARINE PROTECTED AREA

Southern Reef Marine Protected Area

5. (1) The Southern Reef Marine Protected Area is composed of a core protection zone, a vertical adaptive management zone and an adaptive management zone.

Core protection zone

(2) The core protection zone consists of the seabed, the subsoil to a depth of 20 m and the water column above the seabed to a depth of 146 m below the sea surface. The boundaries of the core protection zone are represented by a series of rhumb lines drawn from points 33 to 39, the coordinates of which are set out in Schedule 4, and then back to point 33.

Vertical adaptive management zone

(3) The vertical adaptive management zone consists of the water column that extends above the core protection zone to the sea surface.

Adaptive management zone

(4) The adaptive management zone consists of the seabed, subsoil and waters of the Southern Reef Marine Protected Area that are not part of the core protection zone or the vertical adaptive management zone.

PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES

Prohibition

6. It is prohibited in the Marine Protected Areas to

  • (a) carry out any activity that disturbs, damages, destroys or removes any living marine organism or any part of its habitat or is likely to do so; or
  • (b) carry out any scientific research or monitoring, or any educational activity, unless it is part of an activity plan that has been approved by the Minister.

EXCEPTIONS

Permitted activities

7. Despite paragraph 6(a), the following activities may be carried out in the Marine Protected Areas:

  • (a) fishing in the adaptive management and vertical adaptive management zones if
    • (i) the fishing is not likely to result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs,
    • (ii) the fishing is carried out in accordance with the Fisheries Act and its regulations,
    • (iii) the fishing is carried out in accordance with the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and its regulations,
    • (iv) in the case of commercial fishing in a vertical adaptive management zone, the fishing is carried out by means of midwater trawl, midwater hook and line, troll, seine or gillnet and the gear does not enter a core protection zone, and
    • (v) in the case of recreational fishing in a vertical adaptive management zone, the fishing is carried out by means of midwater hook and line and the gear does not enter a core protection zone;
  • (b) navigation of vessels in the adaptive management and vertical adaptive management zones that is carried out
    • (i) in accordance with the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations, and
    • (ii) without any anchor entering a core protection zone;
  • (c) the laying, maintenance or repair of cables in the adaptive management zones if the laying, maintenance or repair is not likely to result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs;
  • (d) any activity that is carried out for the purpose of public safety, national defence, national security, law enforcement or responding to an emergency; and
  • (e) any activity that is part of an activity plan that has been approved by the Minister.

ACTIVITY PLAN

Submission of activity plan

8. (1) Any person may submit to the Minister an activity plan for the carrying out of scientific research or monitoring, or educational activities, in the Marine Protected Areas.

Activity plan

(2) The activity plan must contain

  • (a) the person’s name, address, telephone number and email address;
  • (b) if the plan is submitted by an institution or organization, the name of the individual who will be responsible for the proposed activity and their title, address, telephone number and email address;
  • (c) the name of each vessel that the person proposes to use to carry out the activity, its state of registration and registration number, its radio call sign and the name and address of its owner, master and any operator;
  • (d) the proposed dates of the vessel’s first entry into and final exit from the Marine Protected Areas, and any proposed alternative dates;
  • (e) the geographic coordinates of the site of the proposed activity and a map that shows the location of the activity within the boundaries of the Marine Protected Areas;
  • (f) a list of any substances that may be deposited during the proposed activity in the Marine Protected Areas — other than substances that are authorized by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations to be deposited in the navigation of a vessel — and the quantity and concentration of each substance;
  • (g) a detailed description of the proposed activity and its purpose;
  • (h) a general description of any study, report or other work that is anticipated to result from the proposed activity, and its anticipated date of completion;
  • (i) a description of any scientific research or monitoring, or educational activities, that the person has previously carried out in the Marine Protected Areas or anticipates carrying out in those areas in the future; and
  • (j) a description of any measures to be taken to monitor, avoid, minimize or mitigate any environmental effects of the proposed activity.

Approval of activity plans

9. (1) The Minister must approve an activity plan if

  • (a) the scientific research or monitoring activities set out in the plan are not likely to adversely impact the biological, chemical or oceanographic processes that maintain or enhance the biodiversity, structural habitat or ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs and will serve to
    • (i) increase knowledge of the biodiversity, structural habitat or ecosystem function of the Marine Protected Areas,
    • (ii) assist in the management of the Marine Protected Areas, or
    • (iii) assist in the evaluation of the effectiveness of any measures taken to conserve and protect the Marine Protected Areas; and
  • (b) the educational activities set out in the plan are not likely to result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs and will serve to increase public awareness of the Marine Protected Areas.

Approval prohibited

(2) Despite subsection (1), the Minister must not approve an activity plan if

  • (a) any substance that may be deposited during the proposed activity is a “deleterious substance” within the meaning of subsection 34(1) of the Fisheries Act, unless the deposit of the substance is authorized under subsection 36(4) of that Act;
  • (b) the cumulative environmental effects of the proposed activity, in combination with any other past and current activities carried out in the Marine Protected Areas, are likely to adversely impact the biological, chemical or oceanographic processes that maintain or enhance the biodiversity, structural habitat or ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs; or
  • (c) any educational activity within a core protection zone is proposed.

Timeline for approval

(3) The Minister’s decision in respect of an activity plan must be made within

  • (a) 60 days after the day on which the activity plan is submitted; or
  • (b) if amendments to the plan are made, 60 days after the day on which the amended plan is submitted.

Studies, reports or other work

10. (1) If an activity plan has been approved by the Minister, the person who submits the plan must provide the Minister with a copy of any study, report or other work that results from the activity and that is related to the conservation and protection of the Marine Protected Areas.

Data

(2) The study, report or other work must be accompanied by the data that was obtained during the activity.

Deadline

(3) The study, report or other work, together with the data, must be provided to the Minister within 90 days after the day on which the study, report or other work is completed.

Data

(4) If the study, report or other work is not completed within a period of three years from the last day of the scientific research or monitoring activity or educational activity, the person must submit the data that was obtained during the activity to the Minister within 90 days after that period.

COMING INTO FORCE

Registration

11. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.

SCHEDULE 1
(Section 2)

HECATE STRAIT AND QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND GLASS SPONGE REEFS MARINE PROTECTED AREAS

Schedule 1 is a map depicting the location of the three Marine Protected Areas within Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. The Schedule also includes three tables setting out the geographic coordinates of the Marine Protected Areas.?????

SCHEDULE 2
(Subsection 3(2))

NORTHERN REEF MARINE PROTECTED AREA

Schedule 2 is a map depicting the Northern Reef Marine Protected Area as a Core Protection Zone surrounded by an Adaptive Management Zone. The Schedule also includes a table setting out the geographic coordinates of the Core Protection Zone.?????

SCHEDULE 3
(Subsections 4(2) and (3))

CENTRAL REEFS MARINE PROTECTED AREA

Schedule 3 is a map depicting the Central Reefs Marine Protected Area as two Core Protection Zones surrounded by an Adaptive Management Zone. The Schedule also includes two tables setting out the geographic coordinates of the Core Protection Zones.?????

SCHEDULE 4
(Subsection 5(2))

SOUTHERN REEF MARINE PROTECTED AREA

Schedule 4 is a map depicting the Southern Reef Marine Protected Area as a Core Protection Zone surrounded by an Adaptive Management Zone. The schedule also includes a table setting out the geographic coordinates of the Core Protection Zone.????

[26-1-o]

  • Footnote 1
    Ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs) are defined as ocean areas that are particularly important because of the functions that they serve in the ecosystem and/or because of their structural properties. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Ecosystem Science Report: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/csas/Csas/status/2004/ESR2004_006_e.pdf.
  • Footnote a
    S.C. 1996, c. 31