Special Places:

An Exploration of Our Marine Protected Areas

Interview with Dr. Jack Lawson, images provided by Dave Howells. Located off the south coast of Newfoundland, the Laurentian Channel has complex water circulation and oceanographic conditions which result in a unique habitat within Newfoundland and Labrador waters. This area is home to sea turtles, whales, sharks, corals, and many other species. It is now a candidate for designation as a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

More Information

Laurentian Channel

The proposed Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area is located off the southwest coast of Newfoundland. The Laurentian Channel is actually a deep submarine valley which begins near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and ends at the edge of the continental shelf, however the MPA will only include a portion of this, outlined in the map below. The entire 11,619 kmMPA will exclude all commercial fishing. Marine Protected Areas are all different and can allow human activities and resource use to occur provided they do not affect those species which are being protected. Upon establishment in 2017, the Laurentian Channel MPA will be the largest no-take zone in Canada.

Conservation Goals

The overarching goal would be to conserve biodiversity through protection of key species and habitats, ecosystem structure and function, and through scientific research. The conservation objectives are focused on the following key species:

  • Black Dogfish – a small shark species that gives birth to live pups inside the MPA
  • Smooth Skate – a flat fish that lives on the bottom of the seafloor and lays their eggs inside capsules called a mermaids purse
  • Porbeagle Shark – a shark over 2m long that has long-distance seasonal migrations, with mating grounds inside the MPA
  • Northern Wolffish – a large marine fish given the name “wolffish” because of their protruding front teeth and powerful jaws. This fish is listed as Threatened under the Species at Risk Act
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle – the world’s largest sea turtle and the only sea turtle that does not have a hard shell or scales. They feed in our waters every year. Listed as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act
  • Corals – many kinds of cold water corals are found all around NL, including stony coral, soft coral and individual sea pens. They are animals that attach to hard surfaces or soft sand and cannot move. They filter feed food from water currents.

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