Scott Islands Protected Marine Area Establishment Order: SI/2018-44
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 152, Number 13
June 27, 2018
CANADA WILDLIFE ACT
P.C. 2018-712 June 11, 2018
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to subsection 4.1(1) footnotea of the Canada Wildlife Actfootnoteb makes the annexed Scott Islands Protected Marine Area Establishment Order.
Scott Islands Protected Marine Area Establishment Order
1 There is established a protected marine area to be known as the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area in the area of the sea that forms part of the internal waters of Canada, the territorial sea of Canada and the exclusive economic zone of Canada and that is described in Schedule 1 and depicted in Schedule 2.
Coming into force
2 This Order comes into force on the day on which the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area Regulations come into force.
Description of the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area
1 In this Schedule, all geographical coordinates are expressed in the North America Datum 1983 geodetic system (NAD83).
2 The Scott Islands Protected Marine Area is described as follows:
Commencing at the point of intersection of the ordinary high water mark with a rhumb line (or the production of a rhumb line) connecting points at latitude 50°41′32.5″ north and longitude 128°22′38.9″ west and latitude 50°20′45.2″ north and longitude 128°45′32.4″ west;
Then along a rhumb line to a point at latitude 50°20′45.2″ north and longitude 128°45′32.4″ west;
Then along a rhumb line to a point at latitude 50°09′49.0″ north and longitude 129°21′08.0″ west;
Then along a rhumb line to a point at latitude 50°24′19.3″ north and longitude 130°00′37.4″ west;
Then along a rhumb line to a point at latitude 51°06′04.3″ north and longitude 130°08′26.1″ west;
Then along a rhumb line to a point at latitude 51°14′33.9″ north and longitude 128°55′45.5″ west;
Then along a rhumb line to a point at latitude 51°14′57.6″ north and longitude 128°47′01.2″ west;
Then along a rhumb line to a point at latitude 51°15′05.0″ north and longitude 128°36′45.5″ west;
Then along a rhumb line (or the production of the rhumb line) to a point on the ordinary high water mark at latitude 50°50′37.2″ north and longitude 128°10′39.1″ west;
Then generally southwesterly and generally southeasterly along the ordinary high water mark to the mouth of Hansen Lagoon at latitude 50°44′23.3″ north and approximate longitude 128°24′09.5″ west;
Then along a line across the mouth of Hansen Lagoon to a point on the ordinary high water mark at approximate latitude 50°43′39.54″ north and longitude 128°23′22.7″ west;
Then along the ordinary high water mark to the point of commencement.
Except all islands and all foreshore lying above the low water line.
The described area containing approximately 11 546 square kilometres.
Map of the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area
In this schedule, the lines connecting the points are rhumb lines.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
The Governor in Council, pursuant to subsection 4.1(1) of the Canada Wildlife Act (CWA), may establish a protected marine area in an area of the sea that forms part of the internal waters, the territorial sea or, the exclusive economic zone of Canada, as described in Schedule 1 and depicted in Schedule 2 of the Order. This Order establishes the boundaries of the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area off the northwest tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
The Scott Islands Protected Marine Area is the first protected marine area established under the authority of the CWA. It consists entirely of an 11 546 km2 marine area that excludes the terrestrial portions of the islands, including the provincially protected Scott Islands. Part of the boundary follows the north side of Vancouver Island along the ordinary high water mark following the edge of Cape Scott Provincial Park. The northeastern boundary runs immediately adjacent to the boundary of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area established under the Oceans Act, which is managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The protected marine area includes the seabed (surface), the subsoil (subsurface), the sea or water column above the seabed and the airspace above.
The objective of this Order is to establish the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area by designating its boundaries. Establishment of the protected marine area is essential so that regulations may be made by the Governor in Council under section 12 of the CWA to prescribe measures for conservation of wildlife within the designated area. The establishment of the protected marine area will also enable the implementation of a management plan which will further guide activities in the area in order to maintain and improve the ecological integrity of the protected area.
The boundary of the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area was developed using the best information on seabird distributions and habitat that was available at the outset of the planning process. This included analysis of seabird information available at the time which involved reviewing the distances that seabirds nesting on the Scott Islands fly to get food for their chicks. Socio-economic information was also considered, as was existing integrated marine planning processes for this region that can be used to protect specific areas of high conservation value that are outside of the protected marine area.
Ecological significance of area
The Scott Islands support the highest concentration of breeding seabirds in the Canadian Pacific, sustaining 40% of British Columbia’s seabirds, including 90% of Canada’s Tufted Puffins, 95% of Pacific Canada’s Common Murre, 50% of the world’s Cassin’s Auklets and 7% of the global population of Rhinoceros Auklet. The surrounding ocean waters provide key foraging habitat for the birds that nest on the islands, and also attract an additional 5–10 million migratory birds annually that may travel vast distances across the Pacific to feed on the abundance of small fish and zooplankton. Several species that nest in or frequent the area have been identified as being at risk of extinction, either globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) or nationally under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). In 1997, the Scott Islands were identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International,footnote1 recognizing the essential habitat they provide to Canada’s bird population, as well as the importance of the area to the conservation of bird species worldwide. In addition to being a key area for seabirds, the marine area around the Scott Islands has also been identified as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) due to the high marine productivity and diversity of marine mammals and fish species present, and because it contains important habitat for several marine mammal species that are listed under SARA.
- The boundary encompasses significant habitats for seabirds nesting on the Scott Islands. This was determined in large part by radio or satellite telemetry, which tracked seabird distribution and foraging activities through transmitters that were placed on birds. Most of the marine areas in Canada’s Pacific with significant use by Tufted Puffin during the breeding season.
- A substantial amount of marine area with significant use by Cassin’s Auklet and Rhinoceros Auklet during the breeding season.
- Some of the habitat used by Common Murre when migrating in summer to other seasonal habitats is included. Male Common Murre and chicks migrate by swimming, as chicks are unable to fly at this time. Migrating chicks are also unable to forage, so the adult catches food to feed them. Consequently, the migration routes are also important foraging habitats.
- Ocean areas used by seabird species nesting on the Scott Islands, determined over 20 years of observations at sea, are included. Where there are no telemetry data, these areas are defined as an approximately 65 km radius from Triangle Island, which is the mean foraging distance of Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets, determined by the radio-telemetry studies.
- An area for which very detailed ocean floor mapping is available, showing likely habitat for Pacific sand lance, a key forage fish important to Rhinoceros Auklet and other fish-eating seabirds. This habitat can be described as shallow-water areas, less than 100 m deep.
- Near-shore Scott Islands habitats, which breeding bird species use early in the season, and which include some near-shore locations of Cassin’s Auklet, Rhinoceros Auklet and Common Murre.
- Marine foraging habitat for seabirds based on key ocean floor features.
Significance of area to First Nations
West coast First Nations have a long-standing historical connection to the ocean and its resources. The Quatsino and Tlatlasikwala First Nations consider the Scott Islands and surrounding marine area to be within their territory. The region is their ancestral home and continues to hold important cultural and spiritual significance for them.
Socio-economic significance of area
The Scott Islands and surrounding marine environment are a hub for research, with the focus being on wildlife species, particularly seabirds and other migratory birds. The two primary commercial activities in the area are fishing and marine transportation. There are various fisheries, which together include longline, trap and ground trawl methods of fishing. While there are some deep sea shipping vessels and cruise ships that pass through to large ports along the Pacific coast, there are also many transit that are directly related to and support economic activities on northern Vancouver Island, such as tug/tow vessels related to the local forest industry. Although most guided fishing and marine wildlife companies in the area are based out of Port Hardy, the proposed protected marine area makes up part of the marine area that they frequent, depending on the season and the weather. There is also limited water taxi transportation, with many of the clients being campers at Cape Scott Provincial Park. Recreational fishing and boating activities also take place in the area but are limited due to the remote location and often unpredictable waters. The Minister of Natural Resources issued 36 oil and gas exploration permits in the 1960s and one exploration licence in the 1990s in the same area that is now proposed as the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area. Since 1972, the federal government has maintained a policy moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in the Pacific offshore, which includes those permits and licences that reside within the area.
This Order establishes the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area by defining its boundaries. On its own, the establishment does not have any regulatory or other implications, as it does not put any protections or prohibitions into place. Establishing the area as a Protected Marine Area under the authority of the CWA is a necessary precursor step in the legal process to enable regulations, which will prescribe measures for the conservation of wildlife in the area. These regulations would be made subsequently by the Governor in Council.
The establishment of the protected marine area, along with the implementation of the regulations and management plan, will together strengthen the Department of the Environment’s ability to meet its obligation with respect to the management of migratory birds and the protection of species at risk, and will support the Government of Canada’s commitment to protect at least 10% of the nation’s marine and coastal environment by 2020.
In 2010, a government Steering Committee and stakeholder Advisory Group, both chaired by the Department of the Environment, were established in order to consult on the proposed area to be protected, including its boundary. The original study area included approximately 25 810 km2 of marine area, as outlined in the Ecosystems Overview Report.footnote2 The Steering Committee includes representatives from federal departments (Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Department of Transport, Department of Natural Resources), the Province of British Columbia (Ministries of Environment; and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations), the Quatsino First Nation and the Tlatlasikwala First Nation. The Advisory Group includes representatives from commercial fishing, recreational fishing, oil and gas, marine transportation, conservation groups, tourism and local and regional government. A technical workshop was held in December 2010 to solicit and discuss information relevant to identifying boundary options for the area. Additional information provided by experts within the Department of the Environment was used internally to review and discuss potential boundary options. Subsequently, the various data were used to develop a preliminary ecological concept, approximately 16 110 km2 in size, encompassing most of the documented marine habitats used by seabirds nesting on the Scott Islands. This preliminary ecological concept was provided to the Steering Committee and Advisory Group for input. Further review of the information on seabird habitat use, and consideration of comments received from the Steering Committee and Advisory Group resulted in a boundary option including approximately 11 925 km2 of marine area. Several factors were considered in reducing the area covered by the preliminary ecological concept to produce the current boundary. Consultations with the Steering Committee and the Advisory Group suggested that the area was too large and overlapped with many economic activities. The preliminary ecological concept was reduced to provide more room for other marine planning processes to protect other areas of high conservation value, and to focus on the most important ocean habitats of seabirds nesting on the Scott Islands. Habitats that were not included in the protected marine area can be considered in existing marine planning processes, such as through the management of activities by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada, as well as continued participation in the Marine Protected Areas Technical Team (MPATT), which identifies conservation priorities and sites for protection, contributing to the development of a bioregional marine protected area network plan, known as the Northern Shelf Bioregion.
The boundary was consulted on with Canadians when the Regulatory Strategy for the Designation of the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area was posted on the Department of the Environment website in March 2013 for a 60-day comment period. Feedback received on the Regulatory Strategy was incorporated in a Regulatory Intentfootnote3 document which was shared with the Steering Committee and the Advisory Group in June 2016.
On December 31, 2016, a Notice of Intent to establish the boundaries of the proposed Scott Islands Protected Marine Area, as well the proposed Scott Islands Protected Marine Area Regulations, were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I (CGI). Each was followed by a 30-day public comment period. Many letters were received by the Department of the Environment on the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area proposal (proposed boundaries and Regulations), some of which included comments regarding the proposed boundary.
Many comments were received requesting that the boundary be expanded to include all of the important foraging areas for seabirds. This request was made in two separate letter writing campaigns by environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), which together totalled close to 5 800 emails received. The same request to expand the boundaries was made in a joint letter signed by national and international scientists and academics and an ENGO, and in letters from several individual Canadians.
Several letters were also received that were supportive of the proposal overall, including the proposed boundaries. This feedback was received from various industry associations, including fishing shipping/navigation and oil and gas associations, as well as from local governments and individual commercial and recreational fishers, totalling 25 letters received. Most of these letters also communicated strong support for the collaborative process through which the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area proposal was developed.
The Department of the Environment has carefully reviewed the comments received following the CGI publication, and has taken all input into consideration. The Department has also had follow-up meetings with several ENGOs, as well as with the Steering Committee and Advisory Group members. Taking all of the information into consideration, including the factors that went into determining the proposed boundaries, the comments received, and the follow-up consultations undertaken, the Department decided to maintain the boundary of the Scott Islands Protected Marine Area as proposed. The boundary is the result of several years of analysis of seabird data, as well as consultation and collaboration between Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), federal, provincial and First Nations partners, as well as many stakeholders. It achieves the conservation objectives while considering the social and economic values of the area. Moving forward after the establishment of the protected area, the Department of the Environment has committed to periodically conducting comprehensive follow-up reviews of seabird distribution data and habitat information as it becomes available. These reviews may provide further insight into the key habitat areas for the Scott Islands nesting seabirds, which would inform adaptive management measures within the protected marine area. The Department will work with existing integrated marine planning processes with the intention to implement appropriate protections for any important seabird foraging habitat areas outside of the protected marine area that are currently known, or could be determined in the future. Expanding the size of the protected marine area to include some or all of these areas may also be an option to be considered in the future.
Wildlife Management and Regulatory Affairs Division
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada