Identification of Ecologically and Biologically Integrated Management Area:

Identification of Ecologically and Biologically Integrated Management Area:
Identification of Ecologically and Biologically
Significant Areas in the Pacific North Coast
Integrated Management Area:
Phase I - Identification of Important Areas
C.L. Clarke and G.S. Jamieson
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Pacific Biological Station
3190 Hammond Bay Road
Nanaimo, BC
V9T 6N7
Canadian Technical Report of
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2678
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Canadian Technical Report of
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2678
Identification of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas in the
Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area:
Phase I – Identification of Important Areas
C.L. Clarke and G.S. Jamieson
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Pacific Biological Station
3190 Hammond Bay Road
Nanaimo, BC
V9T 6N7
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2006
Cat. No. Fs97-6/2678 (Phase 1)E
ISSN 0706-6457
Correct citation for this publication:
Clarke, C.L., and Jamieson, G.S. 2006. Identification of ecologically and biologically
significant areas in the Pacific North Coast Intergrated Management Area: Phase
I – Identification of important areas. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2678: vi +
89 p.
Table of Contents
Abstract ............................................................................................................................... v
1. Introduction................................................................................................................. 1
2. Regional Integrated Management Approaches........................................................... 3
ESSIM................................................................................................................. 3
GOSLIM ............................................................................................................. 3
PNCIMA ............................................................................................................. 4
3. National EBSA Criteria Guidelines ............................................................................ 5
4. Methodology ............................................................................................................... 6
Delphic Identification ......................................................................................... 6
Initial Identification of Important Areas ..................................................... 6
Ranking Important Areas............................................................................ 8
Database structure............................................................................................... 9
5. Important Area Layer Characteristics......................................................................... 9
Anadromous fish................................................................................................. 9
Birds.................................................................................................................. 11
Marine Mammals .............................................................................................. 12
Cetaceans .................................................................................................. 12
Toothed Whales .................................................................................... 13
Baleen Whales ...................................................................................... 14
Pinnipeds................................................................................................... 16
Sea Otters .................................................................................................. 17
Elasmobranchs .................................................................................................. 17
Groundfish ........................................................................................................ 17
Structural Habitat-Forming Species.................................................................. 19
Sponges ..................................................................................................... 19
Corals ........................................................................................................ 20
Macrophyte Beds ...................................................................................... 20
Pelagic Fish....................................................................................................... 20
Invertebrates...................................................................................................... 22
Low Mobility Marine Invertebrates.......................................................... 22
Mobile Marine Invertebrates..................................................................... 24
Turtles ............................................................................................................... 25
5.10 Oceanographic Features.................................................................................... 26
5.11 Parks Canada..................................................................................................... 27
5.12 Provincial Government ..................................................................................... 27
6. Important Areas ........................................................................................................ 27
Important Area Analysis ................................................................................... 28
7. Caveats & Special Considerations ............................................................................ 29
Data Gaps.......................................................................................................... 29
Other Data Sources ........................................................................................... 30
Scale.................................................................................................................. 30
Bias ................................................................................................................... 31
Data Quality ...................................................................................................... 32
8. Recommendations..................................................................................................... 32
9. Literature Cited ......................................................................................................... 34
Tables.................................................................................................................... 40
Figures................................................................................................................... 42
Appendix I: List of Delphic participants that provided information. ............................... 47
Appendix II: Layers considered in EBSA identification .................................................. 48
Appendix III: Map Folio................................................................................................... 49
Clarke, C.L., and Jamieson, G.S. 2006. Identification of ecologically and biologically
significant areas in the Pacific North Coast Intergrated Management Area: Phase
I – Identification of important areas. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2678: vi +
89 p.
This report details the identification process of Ecologically and Biologically Significant
Areas (EBSAs) for Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA). EBSAs
are areas worthy of enhanced management or risk aversion. An area is identified as an
EBSA if it ranks highly on one or more of three dimensions (Uniqueness, Aggregation
and Fitness Consequences), and can be weighted by two other dimensions (Naturalness
and Resilience), agreed upon at a national DFO workshop (DFO 2004c). Regional
scientific experts were surveyed to identify Important Areas (IAs) of PNCIMA that met
the criteria using a modified Delphic process. Thematic layers produced included species
of fish, invertebrates, marine mammals, and reptiles, oceanographic features, provincial
ecounits and Parks Canada areas of interest. Experts were also asked to provide rankings
of each species’ Important Areas identified for each of the five EBSA criteria. The final
list of 144 species’ Important Areas is identified in 40 thematic layers. This report
describes how these IAs were identified, discusses issues around the EBSA identification
process, and includes maps displaying each individual thematic layer.
When taken together the entire group of species’ Important Areas covers almost the
entire area of PNCIMA. This indicates that when viewed at this level, the entire
PNCIMA is important in some way to one of the 40 species, species groups or habitat
Clarke, C.L. et Jamieson, G.S. 2006. Identification des zones d'importance écologique et
biologique dans la zone de gestion intégrée de la côte nord du Pacifique : Phase
I : Identification des zones importantes. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2678:
vi + 89 p.
Le présent rapport détaille le processus d’identification des zones d'importance
écologique et biologique (ZIÉB) pour la zone de gestion intégrée de la côte nord du
Pacifique (ZGICNP). Les ZIÉB sont des secteurs qui méritent une gestion et une
protection accrues. Pour être déclaré ZIÉB, un secteur doit recevoir une cote élevée pour
au moins un des trois critères en vigueur (unicité, agrégation et conséquences de la valeur
sélective) et être caractérisé par deux autres dimensions (caractère naturel et capacité de
récupération/résistance) définies lors d’un atelier national du MPO (MPO 2004c). On a
demandé aux experts scientifiques régionaux d’identifier, à l’aide d’une version modifiée
de la méthode Delphic, les secteurs importants des ZGICNP qui répondent aux critères en
question. Les couches thématiques produites comprennent les différentes espèces de
poissons, les invertébrés, les mammifères marins, les reptiles, les caractéristiques
océanographiques, les unités écologiques provinciales et les secteurs désignés comme
intéressants par Parcs Canada. On a également demandé aux experts de classer les
secteurs importants pour chaque espèce en utilisant les cinq critères définis pour les
ZIÉB. La liste finale des 144 secteurs importants est identifiée dans 40 couches
thématiques. Le présent rapport décrit comment ces secteurs importants ont été identifiés,
discute des enjeux relatifs à l’identification des ZIÉB et présente des cartes montrant
chaque couche thématique individuelle.
Dans son ensemble, le groupe des secteurs importants pour chaque espèce couvre presque
la totalité de la ZGICNP. Cela montre qu’à ce niveau, la ZGICNP dans son entier est
importante, d’une certaine façon, pour l’une des 40 espèces, groupes d’espèces ou
Canada’s Oceans Act was passed in 1997 and incorporates three important principles in
ocean management: sustainable development, integrated management (IM) and the
precautionary approach (DFO, 2004b). Integrated Management is “an ongoing and
collaborative planning process that brings together interested stakeholders and regulators
to reach general agreement on the best mix of conservation, sustainable use and economic
development of marine areas for the benefit of all Canadians” (DFO, 2004a). The 2004
Oceans Action Plan identifies five Large Ocean Management Areas (LOMAs) in Canada
where Integrated Management will be initially applied: 1) Gulf of St. Lawrence
Integrated Management (GOSLIM) Initiative, 2) Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated
Management (ESSIM) Initiative, 3) Beaufort Sea, 4) Placentia Bay/Grand Banks and 5)
Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) Initiative.
In Pacific Region, the Central Coast was the initial pilot IM area (CCIM), but in 2004 it
was expanded to include all of the Queen Charlotte Basin (Map 1). Background
documentation being produced to support IM in PNCIMA is comprised of numerous
parts: including an Ecosystem Overview Report; a Marine Use Analysis report;
identification of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) (DFO, 2004a),
Ecologically Significant Species and Community Properties (ESSCPs), Depleted Species
and Degraded Areas. The current report details the methodology for identifying species’
Important Areas (IAs) for consideration in determining EBSAs in PNCIMA. It must be
stressed that the identification of an EBSA under this decision model, based purely on
scientific advice available at the time this report was completed, does not confer any
legislative protection for identified areas. We recognise that consideration should also be
given to incorporating additional data and data types (e.g. traditional and local ecological
knowledge) to address data gaps and acknowledged shortcomings of the existing sciencebased EBSA identification process, but it is understood this consideration will be part of
a later exercise, and so is not included here.
Large Ocean Management Area (LOMA)-scale IAs are believed to be largely nonexistent in the more confined oceanographic areas of the archipelago-fjord complex that
characterises the mainland coast of British Columbia. This should not imply that
regionally significant IAs do not exist there, but rather that IAs there are expected to be
more appropriately identified through smaller, Coastal Management Area (CMA)-scale
EBSA analyses, which we encourage to be done as soon as possible as part of the
PNCIMA process.
Canada’s Oceans Act empowers Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to apply an
enhanced level of protection to those areas identified as biologically or ecologically
significant. Marine areas can be considered significant based on the life history functions
they serve in the ecosystem or because of the structural properties they possess (DFO,
2004c). Significance used in this context is purely a relative term. It is understood that
all ecosystems and species functions have some degree of ecological significance. The
current initiative seeks to identify those areas known at this time that host ecological
structures or functions with greater relative significance. The intent is to facilitate the
application of a higher level of protection and/or encourage more cautious risk
assessment by managers for activities occurring or planned in identified EBSA areas.
Ultimate science definition of EBSAs is simply science advice to managers. Sound
ecosystem-based management in PNCIMA will also need to incorporate the nature of
impacts under consideration, a specific area’s vulnerability to potential impacts, and
socio-economic considerations.
Canada’s EBSA identification processes began in ESSIM and GOSLIM, and in PNCIMA
to a lesser extent, before a November, 2004, national workshop (DFO, 2004c) outlined
guidelines for EBSA projects. A summary of criteria guidelines developed at that
workshop are presented below in Section 3. Preliminary initiatives provided much useful
information that was considered at the national workshop, but it also meant that EBSA
identifications prior to November, 2004 were not consistent across regions. With national
guidelines now determined, efforts are underway to rectify earlier EBSA identification
There is still some debate within Canada as to the terminology to be used to refer to the
“national EBSA dimensions” described. Since rankings by experts of areas for different
species are all relative, the final choices of what areas to call EBSAs within a region
depend strongly on the range of choices available. Different regions may thus not always
consider the same threshold levels of criteria rankings as justifying EBSA identification.
However, once a Region has considered its choices, it is presumed to have passed an
important milestone in the EBSA identification process. In each IM area, locations of
Important Areas were to be identified as to where on the continua of each of the five
dimensions they occur. Although the national EBSA guidelines do not ensure (or inflict)
rigid consistency across the country for these threshold locations, it was hoped they
would represent a framework which should theoretically prevent arbitrariness and
rampant subjectivity within a region if they could be practically implemented. The
national framework attempted to ensure that the same considerations were taken into
account in ranking all sites, because the same dimensions should be considered in every
The listing and ranking of Important Areas presented here for PNCIMA should be
considered steps in the ongoing EBSA identification program, as 1) evaluation time was
limited; 2) many experts consulted had collected their data to address other needs, such as
stock assessment. Consequently, they may either not have the most appropriate data or
have not yet analysed their data in a manner most appropriate for EBSA identification.;
3) data of other types (e.g. traditional and local ecological knowledge), has not yet been
included in this process.
Here, we used a modified Delphic process to obtain the opinions of regional scientific
experts over a 15-month period. Surveyed experts suggested Important Areas for species
and habitat features based on the five EBSA dimensions. We went back to experts that
identified Important Areas and asked them to assign continuum vales to each of the areas
identified as important, which operationally meant ranking them as of low, medium or
high importance. Second, a range of spatial analysis options were utilized in evaluations
of potential lists of EBSAs for PNCIMA. Caveats to our analysis are 1) bycatch data has
not been sufficiently captured in the current identification, and focus to date is on
exploited marine species; 2) the EBSA identification process should at some point
include Traditional and Local Ecological Knowledge, but this could not be attempted
here due to a lack of resources. It also may be most appropriate at the Coastal
management; and 3) Important Area identification is based on a snapshot of information
only, i.e., the best available science knowledge at the time of preparation. As new data
become available, revisions and additions may need to be considered.
2. Regional Integrated Management Approaches
IM efforts in Canada began in 1998 in the ESSIM region. Initial efforts (Breeze, 2004) to
identify ecologically significant areas attempted to identify those areas having valued
ecological attributes, which by definition “…contribute to the functioning and
sustainability of the ecosystem, the maintenance and conservation of genetic, species,
population, and/or habitat diversity, and/or other similar vital ecological functions. These
attributes are present [in EBSAs] to a higher degree than most/all other areas within the
region.”. Breeze (2004) used seven first-order criteria and three second order or ranking
criteria to identify significant areas in Maritimes Region. First-order criteria were: 1)
biological productivity, 2) biodiversity, 3) reproductive areas, 4) bottleneck areas, 5)
habitat for endangered/threatened species, 6) rare/unique habitats and habitats for rare
species, and 7) naturalness. Second-order criteria were: a) dependency/survival, b)
fragility/sensitivity, and c) significance.
ESSIM was spatially divided into sub-areas based on historic divisions in the literature
and topographic features, producing 35 discrete sub-areas in total. Each sub-area was
assessed against both first and second-order criteria using published literature and by
considering the level of information available. A sub-area that was ranked high in one or
more criteria was then profiled, i.e. described in detail. Twenty-three significant subareas were profiled, including some adjacent locations that were combined and profiled
together. In 13 of the assessed areas, the level of information available was considered
poor. All the areas which failed to be identified as EBSAs had low levels of information
available, suggesting it may have been information availability that was particularly
important in identifying EBSAs in this process.
GOSLIM is a cooperative IM initiative by three DFO regions: Laurentian, Newfoundland
and Gulf Regions. IM began in this area in 2000, and in GOSLIM, an EBSA was
initially defined as “…a marine space which by virtue of its physio-chemical, geological,
and biological characteristics offers habitats of importance to one or more species of
aquatic fauna and/or flora, whether seasonally or continually.” The identification of
EBSAs for GOSLIM (DFO 2004e) was based on six preliminary documents: 1) EBSAs
for Western Newfoundland and Southern Labrador (Brennan et al., 2003), 2) EBSAs for
Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia (Therrien et al., 2001), 3) EBSAs for New
Brunswick (Therrien et al., 2000), 4) Canadian Wildlife Service List of National Wildlife
Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, 5) Parks Canada National Marine Conservation
Areas System Plan and 6) Zones of Interest for Quebec (DFO, 2002). For this initiative,
significant regions were identified based on one or more of eight criteria:
i) significant biodiversity and/or biological productivity,
ii) presence of a particular ecological community,
iii) presence of condition essential for the development, maintenance or genetic
survival (e.g., spawning, feeding grounds, etc) of individuals in a population or
iv) presence of and/or an important area for species at risk,,
v) presence of a particular oceanographic mechanism and/or unique habitats,
vi) other DFO purposes,
vii) ecologically and/or biologically important for other Departments, agencies or
organizations, and
viii) mandate of the minister.
Criteria used in the GOSLIM EBSA identification process can be linked more directly
with the criteria for protecting marine areas identified in the Oceans Act (Article 35(1)).
In essence, GOSLIM sought to identify areas which are essential to individual species or
species groups. All EBSAs flagged by the preliminary documents and by Parks Canada
and the Canadian Wildlife Service were included on the final map (DFO 2004e). Each
EBSA was numbered and a corresponding legend briefly detailed for each EBSA which
criteria it met and the rationale behind its identification. The preliminary map of
GOSLIM EBSAs did not rank proposed EBSAs in relative importance.
There are two important differences between the earlier, preliminary east coast EBSA
initiatives and the current Pacific PNCIMA EBSA initiative: 1) Spatial scale. PNCIMA
is about ¼ the size of both GOSLIM and ESSIM individually (Figure 1), and so we are
considering EBSAs at a much finer scale than is occurring in Atlantic Canada. Some of
the proposed Atlantic EBSAs would comprise much of the entire PNCIMA if located in
Pacific Canada. There are no biological reasons to suggest that significant habitat for
Pacific species of comparable biology to Atlantic species would be any smaller in area
than that required for Atlantic species. 2) Commercial species diversity. The Pacific
Region has a much greater species biodiversity of most, if not all, species groups. For
example, among North American intertidal decapod species, there are 20 species in
Atlantic Canada and 72 in Pacific Canada (Jamieson et al., 1998). For rockfish, there are
three primary Sebastes species in Atlantic Canada (Agri-Food Trade Service, 2005) and
approximately 33 in Pacific Canada (NOAA, 2001). The importance of these regional
differences should not be undervalued, as it increases the number of potential speciesEBSAs, if all species are considered, by perhaps as much as ten fold in Pacific Canada.
Because each species has a unique biology, biological data available per species is
typically less in Pacific Canada. Therefore, the quantity/quality of data on which EBSA
decisions can be based is generally less in Pacific Canada than is the case in Atlantic
Canada. Thus, identification of EBSAs in the Pacific region may be less spatially precise.
3. National EBSA Criteria Guidelines
In order to reduce variation in EBSA identification criteria being used in IM areas across
Canada, a national workshop was held Nov 17-19, 2004 in Montreal to develop a
standardised EBSA identification process (DFO, 2004c). The decision model that was
developed during the workshop was to be adopted in all IM areas. However, the
application of these criteria in each region is expected to be tailored to the needs and
specific characteristics of individual regions.
The following is a brief summary of the national EBSA guidelines, adapted from DFO
(2004c). There are three main dimensions against which areas are to be evaluated
(Uniqueness, Aggregation and Fitness Consequences) and two additional ranking
dimensions (Resilience and Naturalness). Uniqueness refers to the degree to which the
characteristics of areas are unique, rare, distinct, and have no alternatives. The spectrum
of uniqueness increases from regional to national to international scales. Aggregation
refers to the extent that a) individuals of a species aggregate for part of the year, b) most
individuals use the area for an important life history function or c) where a structural
feature or ecological process occurs with relatively high density. Fitness Consequences
is the degree to which the area itself contributes to the fitness of a population or species,
where the actual life history activity taking place there only makes a marginal
contribution to fitness. Two additional influencing dimensions are also to be considered
during site evaluations: Resilience and Naturalness. Resilience refers habitat structures
or species which are sensitive, easily disturbed, and slow to recover. Naturalness is the
degree to which areas are pristine and contain native species. The ranking from one of
the first three dimensions can be increased if it ranks low in resilience and high in
EBSAs include areas which rank high in any of Uniqueness, Aggregation, or Fitness
Consequences. Areas can also be identified as EBSAs if a large number of average
ranking areas are overlapping. The justification for an EBSA can be thought of as a
continuum where justification becomes stronger with increasing numbers of highly
ranked dimensions.
The three dimensions can overlap considerably and the boundaries between them may
become blurred. For example, birds moulting in large numbers in a specific site may
have a high Aggregation ranking, a high Uniqueness ranking if it is the only site of its
kind in the region and a high Fitness Consequences ranking because moulting in that
particular area results in lower predation for the birds when flightless.
Considering application of the above dimensions to determine EBSAs in an operational
sense has proved to be challenging, as will be shown below. In meetings with experts,
EBSA dimensions were first defined and then examples given of hypothetical areas that
would rank highly for each dimension. Discussion followed to ensure that understanding
of the dimensions and how EBSAs should be identified were fully understood. Each
expert(s) was then asked to detail specific areas within PNCIMA that, according to their
experience and knowledge, stand out in the context of those three dimensions. This
resulted in identification of Important Areas (IAs), but initial proposals of speciesspecific IAs did not ask for rankings of significance. We subsequently had to go back to
the experts and have them quantify on a continuum for each EBSA dimension a value (110) for each IA they identified, which were converted to a ranking.
4. Methodology
The objective of this project was to implement an acceptable and transparent process for
identifying EBSAs in PNCIMA. It is anticipated that there will be follow-up
consultations and extensive discussion during the IM development process. The endproduct of this identification exercise is also expected to be refined and modified over
time as further data become available.
Delphic Identification
4.1.1. Initial Identification of Important Areas
Identification of IAs for PNCIMA used a modified Delphic method. Delphic approaches
have been used in similar projects in the USA, Australia, and by Parks Canada to identify
sites for use in marine reserve systems (Muldoon, 1995). The Delphic method offers
certain advantages over direct data acquisition and analysis. First, the time frame for
Pacific EBSA identification was short compared to initiatives completed in other regions,
which did not allow for us to undertake extensive data collection and analysis of our own.
Second, possible analyses of unfamiliar data sets could lead to erroneous conclusions
since each dataset has unique limitations and issues that need to be considered during
analysis. Data must be viewed carefully in light of management restrictions, observer
effort, gear selectivity, and species biology; all parameters that can influence the
interpretation of spatial and temporal patterns and information that is often difficult
and/or time-consuming to acquire or access. Finally, some important data (e.g. logbook
and bycatch records) were not readily available for analysis by us due to confidentiality
agreements. Therefore, soliciting expert opinions from scientists known to already be
intimately familiar with existing datasets was used to eliminate potential errors and
facilitate completion of the project within the desired timeline. The experience of
regional scientific experts also provided valuable information (Scientific Experiential
Knowledge) not captured in existing datasets.
Delphic methods are relatively straightforward to apply and allow easy explanation to a
wide audience of user groups and managers. Quantitative approaches may sometimes be
more scientifically defensible, but in early discussions, we learned that in many cases,
relevant data had either yet to be collected or if present (e.g. distribution by life stage, or
trawl bycatch data), may not have been analysed, particularly if it was a side attribute of
data collected for other reasons, notably a particular species’ stock assessment. Our
overall conclusion was that an exhaustive quantitative evaluation of the raw data by us
was not justifiable at this time.
To begin the Delphic process, briefings were held for large audiences at the Institute of
Ocean Sciences, the Pacific Biological Station and DFO Regional Headquarters in
Vancouver to explain the concepts behind EBSAs and the criteria dimensions chosen at
the national workshop. Targeted experts were invited to attend these briefings to
facilitate large-scale information dissemination in a small amount of time. Discussion
time was allowed at the end of each presentation to answer questions about the process
and to address concerns and questions from participants. For the few relevant experts
that could not attend the large briefings, individual interviews were undertaken to
introduce the concepts and dimensions involved with EBSA identification. Regional
experts were approached individually or in small groups (all with knowledge on the same
species or species group) to gather their expert opinions. In cases where meetings could
not be arranged due to logistics, an explanatory EBSA information package was sent to
participants and followed up by phone or email.
IAs from experts were spatially drawn by them on paper maps at the PNCIMA scale
(1:300,000 to 1:400,000). Experts drew polygons of areas they felt met the EBSA
criteria and detailed their rationale for choosing these areas either verbally to the
interviewer or by later written submission. Detailed notes were taken during each
interview to document the information given and any concerns the interviewee expressed
about the EBSA identification process. Special attention was given to detailing datasets,
publications and personal observations that the expert’s opinion was based upon.
The paper map from each expert was digitized in ArcView 3.2 and ArcGIS 9.1 to
produce a thematic layer for each expert consulted. Each expert’s layer was given a
unique name that included the expert’s name and the area of expertise that the layer
referred to. The scale of digitization for each polygon was recorded in the attribute table
of each GIS theme. The scale at which areas were identified and digitized is important
information for future analyses. It provides an indication of the scale at which area
boundaries were created and meant to be utilized. Metadata, a standardized text file that
describes the data collection process, references to experts, scale, etc, was produced to
accompany each thematic layer.
A map of the individual layer produced for each expert was returned to that expert for
vetting. This allowed the experts to re-evaluate the layer they created and to check for
accuracy and completeness in presentation. Comments were then elicited and any
changes requested by an expert were made to their layer of IAs.
The Delphic approach works best with a diversity of expert opinion for a given thematic
IA layer and as many experts as possible for each layer were thus consulted in the
timeframe available. When more than one expert was consulted about a species or
habitat feature, that group of experts was treated as a working group. Maps of the initial
layers created by individuals in the group were shared with the other members to allow
for discussion and evaluation of the IAs identified. Interim maps of potential areas were
returned to the working group members as often as needed until consensus was reached.
A final map was then returned to the experts in the working group for confirmation. All
layers produced during this process were transferred to the Habitat Enhancement Branch
(HEB) GIS unit for storage.
We recognize that there is inherent bias in the selection of species included here (e.g.,
mostly commercial species) and the places where data on these species was collected
(areas where fisheries occur). Implications relating to bias associated with commercially
important species, charismatic species, spatial variation, and temporal variation is
discussed further in Section 7.1.2.
4.1.2. Ranking Important Areas
In addition to proposing IAs, experts were asked in the fall of 2005 to: 1) to check the
areas identified in light of possibly more recent data available (another field season had
now passed), 2) to give values for each IA identified for each of the five EBSA
dimensions and 3) to give values for each IA identified according to the quality of data
Each expert was asked to rank each IA they identified from 1-10 for the five EBSA
criteria (Uniqueness, Aggregation, Fitness Consequences, Naturalness and Resilience).
When more than one expert was surveyed and a difference of opinion occurred, the
following decision rules were followed:
• >3 experts:
use the value of the majority (e.g. 9, 6, 9 = 9)
if all different, take the average (e.g. 9, 4, 7 = 7)
• 2 experts:
use the highest value (precautionary) (e.g. 8, 6 = 8)
These rankings were then converted to levels in order to reduce small-scale differences in
subjective opinion among the experts. The conversion followed was: Low value (1-4),
Moderate value (5-7) and High value (8-10). An area’s final score was based on the
highest ranking of the three primary criteria (Uniqueness, Aggregation and Fitness
Consequences). For example, if Area X had been given the following scores: Uniqueness
and Fitness Consequences “moderate”, and Aggregation “high”, the area’s final Score
would be ‘high”.
Under special circumstances, an area’s score could be adjusted for extreme rankings in
the two weighting criteria: Naturalness and Resilience. A low ranking in Naturalness
would push the score down and a low score in Resilience would push the score up.
However, these two criteria were not applicable for the majority of species and areas
examined here, and were not used to adjust rank values. The most relevant application
would have been a low Resilience value for corals and sponges, but rankings here were
already “high” for both the Aggregation and Uniqueness dimensions.
Experts were also asked to evaluate the quality of information available for each
identified area on a scale of 1-3 (Data quality). This allowed the evaluation of the
confidence in an area’s identification. The highest ranking (3) represents detailed
information for the area such as density and spatial locations of life history functions.
Areas with a data quality ranking of 2 have information such as the spatial extent and
occurrence of life history functions and/or modelling information available for habitat
use. A data quality ranking of 1 represents only basic information available, i.e. range or
occurrence (sightings) and perhaps an educated guess at habitat use.
Database structure
In total, 40 IA shapefiles were created for the EBSA project (Table 1), each with 16 fields
of information in the accompanying data tables. Descriptions of the fields can be found
in Table 2.
5. Important Area Layer Characteristics
This section describes areas identified for species, species groupings and habitat features
examined for the PNCIMA EBSA project, including those species for which potential
IAs could not be identified. Details used in the rationale for EBSA identification and the
datasets experts based their advice upon are provided. Problems associated with IA
identification, if any, in each group and recommendations for future analysis are given.
A full list of the species and habitat features investigated is in Appendix II.
5.1 Anadromous fish
Species here are highly migratory with specialized life history strategies that involve both
freshwater and marine habitats. Spawning and nursery functions occur in natal
freshwater rivers while juvenile and adult feeding and migration occurs in the marine
environment. For anadromous fish that return to a natal stream to reproduce, each stream
is essential habitat for its stock, giving a high significance for streams bearing these
species. Ardron (2003) used a measure of species richness and stream magnitude so that
large streams with a high number of anadromous species present would be given the
highest scores. This measure places emphasis on the physical characteristics of the
stream rather than its biological characteristics. A more meaningful biological measure
might include anadromid species richness and escapement magnitudes. Migration routes
can bottleneck species on their way to natal streams, but with increasing distance from
their natal streams, routes can increasingly vary temporally, such as often occurs around
Vancouver Island during El Nĩno events as salmon try to avoid warmer waters.
Six species of salmon reside within the bounds of PNCIMA: 1) Coho, 2) Sockeye, 3)
Steelhead, 4) Pink, 5) Chum, and 6) Chinook. Each salmon stock has a single natal river
from which adults return to breed. Therefore, all salmon rivers are considered essential
habitat for their individual stocks. We have not made an attempt to rank the natal areas
against each other and as such, none of these are identified as IAs, as most, if not all,
these rivers are currently managed intensively. However, research from the Pacific Ocean
Shelf Tracking project (Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking, 2004) has provided some new data
to evaluate the relative importance of areas for salmon in the marine habitat. Six
hydroacoustic tracking lines (in the Strait of Georgia and Queen Charlotte Strait, and off
Brooks Peninsula, Grays Harbour (Washington), Juan de Fuca Strait and South-East
Alaska) were placed on the sea floor to monitor the movements of acoustically tagged
salmon across them. Early results indicate that juveniles from southern BC Sockeye and
Steelhead stocks move rapidly out of estuaries and through Johnstone/Queen Charlotte
Straits (D. Welch, POST & DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Therefore, this area can be
considered an IA because it is a highly important migration route for at least these
species. Coho salmon, in contrast, seem to remain in marine areas closer to the entrance
of their natal streams (D. Welch, POST & DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.), and so in
PNCIMA, the Broughton Archipelago-Johnstone Strait area is identified as an IA for
Keough and Nimpkish Coho stocks (Map 2). The caveat here, though, is that these IAs
are based on only a single season of sampling. However, the POST project is planned to
be a multi-year project, with additional sampling seasons and extension of the listening
lines anticipated, so new data should soon be available.
Green sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris, is a small anadromous fish that occurs from
Alaska to Mexico. There is not a great deal of information about this species in
PNCIMA. There are only three spawning populations known in North America and all
have been listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. A significant
number of animals tagged in the US have recently been shown to utilize the Brooks
Peninsula area (Welch et al., 2004). This is the only place in PNCIMA where this species
has been shown to concentrate, but this may be due to limited data availability. From the
acoustic tracking studies project underway by POST, it appears that individual green
sturgeon may spend approximately six weeks in this area. It is hypothesized that this area
acts as a type of staging area for sturgeon travelling to or from Alaska (D. Welch, POST
& DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). This area was ranked highly Unique and serves as a
possible area of Aggregation and therefore was identified as an IA for green sturgeon
(Map 3).
Eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus) is blue-listed by the CDC, and is a species of special
concern (Government of British Columbia, 2005). Within PNCIMA eulachon fishing
occurs on the Nass and Skeena rivers but is now only a First Nations fishery (Stoffels,
2001). Since 1994 there has been a sharp decline in the entire population of eulachon,
from BC to California, which was especially pronounced in southern rivers (DFO 1999).
Adults spawn in coastal rivers between March and May. There are 33 rivers in BC
where eulachon are known to spawn but only 14 are used regularly (DFO, 2000a).
Genetic testing has failed to show that different eulachon runs are separate stocks and an
unknown degree of mixing and straying likely occurs between populations and rivers.
Only nine potential stock groups (groups of adjacent spawning rivers) are located within
PNCIMA. These nine stock group areas have been identified as IAs as a result of their
Uniqueness and Aggregation of spawning adults (D. Hay, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
The Douglas Channel and Gardner Canal stock group was further divided into two IAs
(Map 4). Adult eulachon spend two to three years at depth in open marine waters before
returning to spawn (DFO, 2000a). Three deep-water IAs have been identified because of
summer aggregations of feeding adults (Map 4).
5.2 Birds
Seabirds utilize PNCIMA for breeding, foraging, migration and staging. How PNCIMA
is used is species-specific, with different species carrying out different life history
processes in different regions within the study area. Fifteen species of marine bird breed
on the British Columbia coast with over five million birds nesting at 503 sites (Burger et
al., 1997). The Scott Islands are the most important breeding grounds for sea birds in
British Columbia and support the densest aggregation in the North Pacific (Rodway et
al., 1991). The Scott Islands has been identified as a globally significant Important Bird
Area (IBA) by Birdlife International. Globally significant proportions of Cassin’s
Auklet, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Tufted Puffin are found there. Nationally significant
populations of Common Murres, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon
Guillemot, Glaucous-winged Gull, Leach’s Storm-Petrel and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel
breed on these islands (Amey et al., 2004). Based on this information and the occurrence
of the Black-footed albatross, Northern Fulmar, Sooty Shearwater, Herring and Thayer’s
gulls, this area was identified as an IA for its high ranking in both Uniqueness and
Aggregation (K. Morgan, CWS, Sidney, pers. comm.). Large numbers of seabirds from
the Scott Islands’ breeding colonies, along with seabirds from elsewhere, forage in the
surrounding area (Amey et al., 2004) and therefore this IA includes both the breeding
colonies at its core and the adjacent wider foraging grounds (Map 5).
The islands at the mouth of Queen Charlotte Strait, which include the Storm Islands, Reid
Islets, Tree Islets, Pine Island and the Buckle Group, are considered the most important
breeding colonies in BC for storm-petrels and Rhinoceros Auklet (Rodway and Lemon,
1991). They also host significant proportions of Fork-tailed Storm-petrels and Leach’s
storm-petrels (37 and 53% respectively). This IA also includes both the breeding colonies
as its core and the adjacent wider foraging grounds (Map 5).
High densities of shearwaters occur seasonally in the shallow waters of Dogfish Bank in
Hecate Strait (Morgan, 1997). Dense aggregations of Sooty shearwaters undergo their
primary moult in the spring off the east coast of Moresby Island, and these shallow
waters are thought to provide shelter from harsh weather and a refuge from predation (K.
Morgan, CWS, Sidney, pers. comm.). In addition, the highest densities of phalaropes,
Herring gulls and Ancient Murrelets are found over Dogfish Bank in Hecate Strait in the
spring and summer (Morgan, 1997). An IA was identified for this location for a number
of species (Map 5). This area was ranked highly in both Aggregation and Fitness
High concentrations of Alcids occur around Learmouth Bank, feeding on the rich
plankton northwest of Langara Island. This area was identified as an IA because of its
high Aggregation of these marine birds (K. Morgan, CWS, Sidney, pers. comm.).
McIntyre Bay was identified as an IA for its high concentrations of seabirds, geese, and
ducks; migrating sea ducks use the area off the east coast of Rose Spit as a staging area
(Ure and Beazley, 2004). Evidence from a satellite-tagging program has shown that
Black and White-winged Scoters spend up to six weeks in this area in the spring (S.
Boyd, CWS, Delta, pers. comm.). Surveys and satellite telemetry studies have also
shown that Black and White-winged Scoters use both the head of the Nass River and the
Prince Rupert area as staging areas on their yearly migration (S. Boyd, CWS, Delta, pers.
comm.). Thus these three areas were identified as IAs because they were ranked
moderate on each of Uniqueness, Aggregation and Fitness Consequences (Map 5).
The area around Brooks Peninsula supports a high species diversity of breeding and
migrating bird species, including Phalaropes, Common Murre, Tufted Puffin, Sooty
Shearwater, Glaucous-winged Gull, Rhinoceros Auklet and Black-legged Kittiwake (K.
Morgan, CWS, Sidney, pers. comm.). This area was thus identified as an IA for Fitness
Consequences (Map 5). An important feeding area skirts the edge of Goose Island bank
and sustains aggregations of Black-footed albatross, Northern Fulmar, Sooty Shearwater,
Leach’s and Fork-tailed Storm-petrels, Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets and Herring and
Thayer’s Gulls (K. Morgan, CWS, Sidney, pers. comm.); this area was identified as an IA
for its Fitness Consequences for these species (Map 5).
A number of islands and bays on the east coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands support
large seabird breeding colonies. These include Langara Island, Frederick Island, Hippa
Island, Englefield Bay, Anthony Island and Marble Island. Cassin’s Auklet, Ancient
Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Tufted Puffin, Leach’s and Fork-tailed Storm-petrels, and
others breed at these colonies and therefore they have been identified as IAs for their
Uniqueness, Aggregation and Fitness Consequences (M. Hipfner, CWS, pers. comm.).
These IAs each have a 10 km radius foraging area around the breeding colonies, but with
little current information on seabird foraging areas, IAs may ultimately need to be even
larger for some species than is indicated here (M. Hipfner, CWS, pers. comm.).
The Canadian Wildlife Service is undertaking their own complementary process for
identifying significant areas for seabirds. Seven of the IAs identified for marine birds
during the current process were also identified by CWS as areas of known or suspected
importance for seabirds (Burger et al., 1997). The large species diversity of marine birds
in the PNCIMA region and the grouping of them all into one layer for analysis present
problems for the EBSA identification process. In subsequent EBSA evaluations, it would
be desirable to establish a separate layer for each bird species individually, and in
particular, for “designated at risk” species. The Marbled Murrelet and Short-tailed
Albatross have been listed as Threatened and the Ancient Murrelet has been listed as a
species of special concern by COSEWIC.
5.3 Marine Mammals
5.3.1. Cetaceans
Cetaceans complete their entire life cycle in the marine environment, and are at highest
densities when breeding and are more widely dispersed when feeding. Calving grounds
are known for only a few species; some species calve during their yearly migrations.
Most species calve at lower latitudes and the PNCIMA region is mostly used for feeding
purposes. Cetaceans may aggregate on the basis of known biological or physical factors
but in other cases, their use of a specific area as opposed to other seemingly similar areas
is for no clear reason (e.g., rubbing beaches). Marine mammals are unique in that
tradition or social functions (persistent family groupings and specific vocal dialects) must
be considered in their protection (Heise et al., 2003). Migration patterns may vary within
species by age, sex, breeding status and health.
Most of the available information on cetacean spatial distribution comes from
opportunistic sightings (Cetacean Sightings Network maintained by the Vancouver
Aquarium) and the historical whaling database (held by DFO). Both of these databases
are biased by the spatial distribution of observer effort to an unknown degree. There is
currently research underway to account for bIAs from effort by the B.C. Cetacean
Sightings Network (BCCSN) (N. Pinnell and D. Sandilands, BCCSN, Vancouver, pers.
comm.). Sightings data from this database are the best available data for cetaceans;
however, because it has not been corrected for effort, the suggested spatial distribution
may most reflect areas with high research or tourist effort. The historical whaling
database has similar bIAs associated with it - whale catches may be more related to the
proximity of the location of the whaling station than actual whale distributions. In
addition, there is extreme variation in the distribution of whales in B.C. waters, with
fluctuations on an annual to decadal scale (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The
incorporation of scientific experiential knowledge may serve to reduce this bias. The
experts consulted for this group have extensive working knowledge of B.C. waters that
allows them to target areas with reliable whale aggregations. We have relied on experts’
knowledge to distinguish significant aggregations of cetaceans from the appearance of
aggregations due to observer effort for IA identification for cetaceans.
Toothed Whales
The harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) is a nearshore species with shy, cryptic
behaviour making it a difficult animal to study (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.;
Heise et al. 2003). This species has been listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List
(IUCN 2004). Concentrations of sightings from the BCCSN are believed to be highly
skewed by effort and therefore cannot be used to identify IAs for this species (J. Ford,
DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Habitat for this species is all nearshore waters less than
100 m in depth (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli) is one of the most widely distributed of the small
cetacean species (Leatherwood et al., 1982). They range from the inshore waters of B.C.
to Japan, with no particular preference for any area (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers.
comm.). Therefore, no areas are identified as IAs for this species.
Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) are distributed from the inlets
to the offshore waters of B.C. Apparent concentrations of sightings around the Queen
Charlotte Islands are believed to be related to effort (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers.
comm.). These animals are widely distributed, so again there are no locations identified
as IAs for this species (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
Killer whales (Orcinus orca) have been divided into three populations or ecotypes: 1)
residents, 2) transients and 3) offshores (Ford et al., 2000; Heise et al., 2003). Resident
killer whales range from Washington to Alaska and the northern population of resident
killer whales falls within the boundaries of PNCIMA. This population has been
designated threatened under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The spatial and temporal
distribution of this population is largely driven by their prey populations, salmon. The
draft SARA recovery strategy identified areas of critical habitat for resident killer whales
which are also areas known for Chinook and Chum salmon fishing (J. Ford, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.; Killer Whale Recovery Team, 2005). From May-September,
northern resident killer whale distribution is driven by the distribution of Chinook
salmon, their main prey. In October, part of this killer whale population switches to feed
on Chum salmon. From December to April, this killer whale population spreads out but
is not believed to leave the region, possibly moving north to Southeast Alaska (J. Ford,
DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The Johnstone Strait core area flagged in the Draft
Recovery Strategy (Killer Whale Recovery Team, 2005) was identified as a killer whale
IA for its high Uniqueness, Aggregation and Fitness Consequences (J. Ford, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Additional IAs for the northern resident killer whales are located
where the population is known to aggregate for part of the year (Map 06). The areas in
between these concentration areas were identified as IAs because these animals have
been observed socializing and travelling there, but were ranked moderate for Uniqueness
and Fitness Consequences (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.; L. Spaven, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
Transient killer whales have been observed everywhere throughout the PNCIMA region.
The northeast Pacific transient killer whale population has been listed as threatened under
SARA. Transient killer whale prey consists of a wide variety of marine mammal species
and no real pattern emerges for their spatial distribution (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers.
comm.). Even less is known about the spatial distribution of the offshore killer whale
population, which seem to be biased towards continental shelf and offshore waters. These
animals use the entire PNCIMA area and a lack of information about this population has
resulted in a designation of special concern under SARA. Therefore, no IAs were
identified for transient or offshore killer whales at this time.
Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, are largely
offshore, deep water animals (>1000 m depth), and the validity of the few sporadic
inshore sightings is questionable (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Based on the
whaling data and a “critical habitat” model (Gregr & Trites, 2001), a single IA was
identified (J. Ford & L. Spaven, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comms.) for this species: the
continental shelf break, bounded by the PNCIMA boundary (Map 07). It should be noted,
that identified sperm whale “critical habitat” extends further offshore, beyond the
PNCIMA boundary.
Baleen Whales
Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are found in B.C. waters during all months
of the year, although peak abundance occurs between May and October (J. Ford, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The humpback whale is listed as threatened under the Species at
Risk Act (SARA; Environment Canada, 2004a) and Vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List
(IUCN, 2004). Humpback whale IAs were identified as known areas of high
concentration based on historical whaling records, data from the BCCSN and expert
personal experience (Map 08). It must be stressed that these are the only areas that have
been documented thus far, and that with more data, other areas in PNCIMA may be
equally significant for humpback whales. The three humpback whale IAs in northern
PNCIMA were ranked high for Uniqueness, Aggregation and Fitness Consequences. The
area in the central coast is ranked high for Uniqueness and Fitness Consequences. The
three southern areas were ranked moderate in all three primary EBSA criteria.
Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) have specific habitat and prey preferences quite
different from the other whales. This species is a benthic suction feeder that occupies
relatively shallow nearshore waters (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.; Heise et al
2003). Gray whales breed in winter calving grounds in Baja California, Mexico
(Calambokidis et al., 2000). Most gray whales migrate north to the Bering Sea from
February to May, travelling and feeding along the west coast of Vancouver Island and the
West and East coasts of the Queen Charlotte Islands on the way. From December to
January, whales travel the same migratory corridors heading south to breeding grounds.
Two IAs were identified based on known migration corridors and these have a moderate
ranking in all three primary EBSA criteria (Map 09). The route that these animals travel
between the two migration corridors is unknown. Researchers believe that migrating gray
whales have to travel through Queen Charlotte Sound to the Queen Charlotte Islands and
from northern Graham Island to Alaska and therefore these potential migration routes
were identified as moderate IAs. . Skidegate Inlet is an area known for its high
concentrations of feeding gray whales and is identified as an IA for its high Uniqueness
(Map 09).
A small part of the North Pacific gray whale population, referred to as summer resident
gray whales, is repeatedly observed in certain northern areas outside the migration period
(Calambokidis et al., 2000). These whales remain in B.C. to feed instead of migrating
further north to feed (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.; Heise et al 2003). Two areas
within PNCIMA support summer residents in high densities, around Cape Caution and at
the northern tip of Vancouver Island (Map 09). These areas are identified as IAs for their
high Uniqueness (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) sightings are extremely rare in post-whaling years,
<10 sightings to 2002 (B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network data, 2004). The Pacific
population of blue whales has been proposed for listing on Schedule 1 of SARA as
endangered (Environment Canada, 2004a) and is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red
List (IUCN, 2004). From historical whaling records, blue whales have been reported
mainly from the continental shelf edge (Heise et al. 2003). The continental shelf break
and offshore areas were identified as “critical habitat” for blue whale by modelling
physical factors and the whaling database (Gregr & Trites, 2001), and was identified as
an IA for this species (J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.) (Map 10).
Sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) are listed as endangered under SARA and by the
IUCN. Although large numbers were taken during whaling, there have been some
sightings in recent years (Heise et al. 2003; B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network data, 2004;
J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The continental shelf break and offshore were
identified as “critical habitat” for sei whale as well by modelling physical factors and the
whaling database (Gregr & Trites, 2001), making the IA for this species the entire shelf
break (Map 11). Predicted “critical habitat” actually extends out beyond the shelf break,,
but this portion is not included here since it is outside PNCIMA..
Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) have been identified as endangered by the IUCN.
Predicted “critical habitat” for this species (Gregr & Trites, 2001) in PNCIMA includes
the continental shelf break, but there is also an aggregation of animals documented in the
BCCSN and historical whaling data that does not seem to be an artefact resulting from
the spatial distribution of observer effort (Heise et al 2003; J. Ford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers.
comm.). This aggregation is in portions of Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance, and so the
IA for fin whales encompasses both the continental shelf break and parts of Dixon
Entrance and Moresby Trough (Map 12).
5.3.2. Pinnipeds
Pinnipeds require stable land habitat for haulout purposes for proper skin metabolism and
predator avoidance, typically isolated islets or rocks with water access and refuge from
adverse weather conditions. The spatial occurrence of pinniped haulouts differs between
species and is affected by the size of foraging grounds available around each haulout
area. Sea lions and elephant seals undergo significant migrations for feeding, breeding
and/or moulting, while harbour seals reside in the same general locations year round.
Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) have the widest species distribution, occurring throughout
the B.C. coast, and occupy a large diversity of habitats. There are hundreds of haulouts
occupied by this species within PNCIMA. Many areas of the coast have not been
surveyed for harbour seals and some recent research surveys in previously unsurveyed
areas have yet to be published (P. Olesiuk, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Haulout sites
could potentially be ranked by their importance to the overall population, but this analysis
is not yet available for PNCIMA. Thus, no IAs were identified for harbour seals.
The Steller sea lion (EumetopIAs jubatus) is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List
and occurs on land sites for three reasons: breeding rookeries, year-round haulouts, and
winter haulouts. Animals associated with these three land sites are spread out at other
times of the year in the marine environment and less is known about their distribution at
these times (Heise et al., 2003). There are only three known rookeries in B.C. waters
where these animals aggregate in the spring to pup (P. Olesiuk, DFO, Nanaimo, pers.
comm.; Heise et al., 2003). These three rookeries and the surrounding waters (20 km
radii) were identified as IAs for their high Uniqueness and Aggregation (Map 13). There
are approximately 25 year-round haulout sites in B.C. and 16 of them fall within the
boundaries of PNCIMA, but use of individual haulouts has a large degree of interannual
variation. These 16 haulout sites and the surrounding waters used in foraging (50 km
radii) were identified as IAs for this species (P. Olesiuk, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.)
(Map 13). While there are numerous winter haulouts for this species that are occupied
primarily in the non-breeding season, none of these sites were identified as IAs.
The Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) is a highly pelagic species and spends only a
short period of time on land for breeding purposes. Data on the distribution of this
species comes from pelagic research collections (1950s-1970s) and commercial sealing
records from the early 20th century (Heise et al. 2003). An area of Hecate Strait is
considered to be an important feeding area that supports a dense aggregation of fur seals,
and a second feeding area occurs in Queen Charlotte Sound (P. Olesiuk, DFO, Nanaimo,
pers. comm.). Both areas were identified as IAs that rank high for Aggregation (Map
5.3.3 Sea Otters
The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is listed as threatened by COSEWIC and the IUCN. Sea
otters were reintroduced to B.C. between 1969 and 1972 and the population is still
expanding (L. Nichol, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). There are two areas within
PNCIMA where sea otters have established (Sea Otter Recovery Team, 2002), and these
areas were identified as IAs based on their high Aggregation and Fitness Consequences
(Map 15). Essentially, all shallow waters habitats found within PNCIMA can be
considered potential sea otter habitat if the population continues to expand (L. Nichol,
DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Analyses that relate sea otter historical range with
predictions from a habitat model in order to identify priority areas for sea otter protection
should be considered when complete.
5.4 Elasmobranchs
There are 14 species of sharks, three species of ray and ten species of skate found in B.C.
waters (Benson et al., 2001). This group exhibits a large diversity of habitat and life
histories. There is a general lack of knowledge about critical habitat for the members of
this group. Further discussion regarding IAs for elasmobranchs can be found in the next
section (5.5 Groundfish).
5.5 Groundfish
There is an extremely high diversity of groundfish species found within PNCIMA
relative to Eastern Canada and an abundance of commercial fisheries data for this group.
Groundfish trawl catch data needs to be evaluated considering management fishing
restrictions and gear selectivity to separate fish density spatial distributions from fishing
effort distributions, which has not been done to date. Many of the groundfish experts
consulted felt that the narrow continental shelf and the high diversity of groundfish
species in B.C. did not easily lend itself to IA identification for individual groundfish
species. Quantitative methods to identify IAs may not be the most suitable approach for
groundfish at this time because of the group’s species diversity and data characteristics.
After consultation with experts, we felt it was inappropriate to identify IAs based on high
densities of catches as a proxy for aggregations. There are various options that we
suggest might be explored. For example, cluster analysis or density analysis of the
groundfish trawl data may give a clearer picture of aggregations, identify ecological
groupings rather than taxonomic ones, and allow identification of the main species
indicative of each grouping. We also suggest species-specific analysis where
appropriate. The groundfish stock assessment division is currently investigating visual
surveys such as ROV and submersible data collection methods as a means of
complementing trawl sample data. It was also suggested that habitat-based assessments
will assist in addressing integrated management research questions (J. Fargo, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Atlases such as those created under the Marine Matters project
(Marine Matters, 2004) may prove to be extremely useful in the EBSA identification
process. Under this project, the Gwaii Haanas groundfish atlas will be made available
online when funding has been secured, and this database can then be included in future
rounds of EBSA identification.
The most recent information available to us about life history stages for groundfish was a
1985 map folio published by the West Coast Offshore Exploration Panel. Groundfish
spawning and juvenile rearing areas were identified for rockfish, lingcod, Pacific cod,
sole, halibut, pollock, hake and sablefish by some undocumented form of Delphic
exercise (West Coast Offshore Exploration Panel, 1985). These areas were deemed to be
acceptably accurate (i.e. best data currently available) by experts in the groundfish Stock
Assessment Division for use in the EBSA process (J. Fargo and A. Sinclair, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). In their opinion, there is little additional information that would
change the areas identified for spawning and rearing in the original report. The spawning
and rearing areas detailed in the original map folio were hand-digitized in ArcView 3.2.
The resultant maps were provided to the groundfish division in order for the appropriate
experts to vet the areas identified and assign EBSA rankings. During this process, the
original areas’ boundaries were not modified but in some cases, areas were removed
because they were no longer considered valid.
Based on this reference, IAs were identified for Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus),
Walleye Pollock (Theragra chalcogramma), Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), Sablefish
(Anoplopoma fimbria) and Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) as single species
IAs. The other maps represent more than one species, such as the ‘sole’ grouping, which
consists of Arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias), Petrale sole (Eopsetta jordani),
Butter sole (Isopsetta isolepis), Rock sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata), Dover sole
(Microstomus pacificus), and English sole (Parophrys vetulus). ‘Rockfish’ consists of
three species: Pacific Ocean perch (Sebastes alutus), Yellowtail rockfish (Sebastes
flavidus), and Yellowmouth rockfish (Sebastes reedi). The areas identified in the map
folio for Hake largely fall outside PNCIMA, and are considered separately under pelagic
fish (Section 5.7).
Three areas were identified for Pacific cod; a large shallow water rearing area in Hecate
Strait and two smaller spawning and rearing areas around Goose Island Bank and Cook
Bank (West Coast Offshore Exploration Panel, 1985). All three IAs were ranked high in
Uniqueness, Aggregation and Fitness Consequences (Map 16) (A. Sinclair, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). For walleye pollock, six areas were identified; four areas for
their spawning and rearing and two as rearing areas (West Coast Offshore Exploration
Panel, 1985). These six areas are moderate ranked IAs for Aggregation (Map 17). A
single IA was identified for spawning and rearing for lingcod (West Coast Offshore
Exploration Panel, 1985) and was ranked high in Uniqueness (Map 18). Three large
spawning and rearing IAs were identified for sablefish (West Coast Offshore Exploration
Panel, 1985) and were ranked high in all three EBSA criteria (Map 19). Two spawning
areas and a single rearing area were identified as IAs for Pacific halibut (West Coast
Offshore Exploration Panel, 1985), and were ranked high for Uniqueness and Fitness
Consequences (Map 20). A total of four IAs were identified for sole (Map 21). Two
areas were identified as spawning and rearing areas, a single area for spawning and a
single area for rearing (West Coast Offshore Exploration Panel, 1985). The northwest
Queen Charlotte Island spawning area was ranked moderate in all three EBSA criteria.
The Hecate Strait rearing area was ranked high in all three EBSA criteria. The two
remaining areas were ranked high for Fitness Consequences.
Rockfish are traditionally divided into three groupings, based on their life history
characteristics and habitat preferences: Inshore, Shelf and Slope rockfish. Inshore
rockfish should be examined at the CMA-level and consider the Rockfish Conservation
Areas designated by DFO. In spite of the large diversity of rockfish, the map folio stated
that only three species of rockfish were represented, Pacific Ocean perch, Yellowtail
rockfish, and Yellowmouth rockfish (West Coast Offshore Exploration Panel, 1985).
Four spawning and two rearing IAs were identified for rockfish (West Coast Offshore
Exploration Panel, 1985) and all were ranked high in Uniqueness, Aggregation and
Fitness Consequences (Map 22).
5.6 Structural Habitat-Forming Species
5.6.1. Sponges
Sponges carry out all non-larval life history functions in the area where settlement occurs.
Sponge reef bioherms were only recently discovered (1987-1988) in the deep water
troughs of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound (Conway et al., 1991). They were
previously thought not to have existed for millions of years and are believed to be
hundreds, if not thousands, of years old (Conway, 1999). These reef-forming species are
significant at a global scale. The sponges that comprise the hexactinellid sponge reefs are
unique habitat-forming species, long-lived and highly sensitive to disturbance. Individual
species are not unique to the bioherms, but the bioherms themselves are unique. The five
known PNCIMA hexactinellid sponge reef complexes are in Hecate Strait and Queen
Charlotte Sound, and have been identified as marine protected areas of interest by
Jamieson and Chew (2002). In addition to their significance based on their own ecology,
sponge reefs are also habitat-forming structures that provide relatively high habitat
complexity and likely support diverse communities not found elsewhere. Therefore, all
known sponge reef representatives were considered IAs because they rank high in
Uniqueness, Aggregation, Naturalness and very low in Resilience (Map 23).
Cloud sponge bioherms were recently discovered in Howe Sound and the Georgia Basin
(Conway et al. 2005). The geomorphology of glaciated channels that causes consistent
upwelling of cold seawater from depths seem to be the physical conditions necessary for
the formation of boot and cloud sponge bioherms. Howe Sound falls outside PNCIMA
but there are areas within PNCIMA which have yet to be explored by divers that possess
similar conditions to Porteau Sill in Howe Sound. These PNCIMA areas were identified
based on examination of hydrographic charts (Map 24) and are considered moderate
value IAs for their possible regional and national uniqueness and the aggregation of
unique communities associated with their structural complexity (J. Marliave, VAMSC,
Vancouver, pers. comm.). The possible cloud sponge IAs mapped are actually larger
than those identified by the expert in order to display them at a Large Ocean Management
Area (LOMA, e.g., PNCIMA) scale.
5.6.2. Corals
The abundance and diversity of cold water corals has only recently been recognized.
Azooxanthellate cold water corals are often below the photic zone and do not
photosynthesize, unlike tropical zooxanthellate corals, which have a symbiotic
relationship with photosynthetic organisms called zooxanthellae, (unicellular
dinoflagellate algae that live in the gastroderm of reef-building corals). Once settlement
occurs, individual azooxanthellate corals, like sponges, are completely dependent upon
the passive supply of food. Some cold water coral species are habitat-forming and
support unique communities of organisms. Cold-water coral communities are typically
long-lived, slow growing and highly sensitive to physical disturbance (Freiwald et al.,
2004). The identification of aggregations of corals in B.C. to date is based on work by
Ardron and Jamieson (2004) analyzing groundfish trawl bycatch data. Their analysis
identified 12 areas that contain 90% of the coral and sponge trawl bycatch by weight.
Nine of these areas fall within the PNCIMA boundary, all of which were identified as IAs
for their high Aggregation and Fitness Consequences (Map 25). The boundaries for
these areas were provided directly by the Living Oceans Society (J. Ardron, LOS,
5.6.3. Macrophyte Beds
Kelp and eelgrass beds are generally widespread along the entire coastline, so
ecologically significant areas would be those that exhibit higher productivity, higher
density of beds or those that are temporally stable. A complete dataset of kelp or seagrass
beds does not yet exist for this region. Data exists at various scales and have varying
degrees of accuracy but as of yet, the entire coast has not been examined. Some datasets
available now may be sufficient for CMA-scale EBSA projects. At the PNCIMA scale,
density analysis may lead in the future to identification of IAs for macrophyte beds but
such an analysis was not available at this time.
5.7 Pelagic Fish
Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) consists of two stocks in B.C. waters: one in the
Strait of Georgia and an offshore stock (DFO, 2003a). Hake are a migratory species,
moving northwards into BC waters from May-September to feed on krill. There is some
evidence of a small number of resident populations in BC waters (K. Cooke, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Hake spatial distribution in PNCIMA is in deep water areas
such as the troughs of Queen Charlotte Sound. There is large interannual temporal
variability in hake abundance. Their northern limit to distribution is Queen Charlotte
Sound in most years, but hake can reach as far north as Dixon Entrance during warm El
Nĩno years (K. Cooke, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Two IAs in Queen Charlotte
Sound were identified for their moderate rankings in all three criteria. A third IA was
identified in Dixon Entrance but is ranked low on all three criteria because of its variable
temporal nature (Map 26). Surveys conducted in the summer of 2005 revealed a new
distribution for hake; they were found in shallow waters and more inshore than during
any previous survey. Researchers speculate that the change may be related to warmer
ocean temperatures. (K. Cooke, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) has been an important part of the commercial fishing
industry for more than 100 years, with catch records dating back to 1877 (Schweigert,
2004). It is one of the most data-rich fisheries encountered during the EBSA project.
The areas identified as IAs for herring were based on four life history processes:
spawning, rearing, migration and feeding. The herring fishery and spawn-on-kelp fishery
is managed with spawning distribution and abundance databases and the commercial
fishery logbook programs, including both herring fishery catch and herring bycatch from
other fisheries. Research surveys and offshore hydroacoustic surveys also serve to
inform herring management (B. McCarter, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Herring are
concentrated in certain areas of the coast during spawning. There are five major
spawning areas for herring stocks in B.C and three of these areas are within the
boundaries of PNCIMA (T. Theirrault, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). After hatching,
herring larvae are advected with the currents out from the hatching site and juveniles are
found in the areas surrounding the hatching areas. The major spawning areas and the
surrounding rearing areas were identified as IAs for their high rank in Uniqueness,
Aggregation, and Fitness Consequences (Map 27). In addition, three unique spawning
areas were identified as IAs. These spawning aggregations are considered unique
because of their timing and genetics (Doug Hay, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.; Tom
Therriault, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). During the summer months, adult herring feed
in high densities at around 100 m depth (D. Hay, T. Theirrault, J. Schweigert, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Four summer feeding areas were identified as herring IAs of
moderate value and the Langara Island feeding area was identified as a low value IA.
Finally, tagging studies have shown that a major migration route for herring is through
the bottleneck of Queen Charlotte Strait and Johnstone Strait (B. McCarter, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Their high aggregation in this area and lack of alternate routes is
the rationale for identification of this area as a high value IA. An unknown degree of
migration is believed to occur through Hecate Strait, along the north and east coasts of
Vancouver Island and through Juan de Fuca Strait (J. Schweigert, DFO, Nanaimo, pers.
Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) is a migratory fish that breeds in California and
migrates to BC waters in the summer to feed. Similar to hake, the northern limit of their
distribution is dependent on water temperature and therefore can extend into Dixon
Entrance in warm El Nĩno years (DFO, 2004d). There were no areas within the sardine
summer distribution that rank highly according to the EBSA dimensions (J. Schweigert,
DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Therefore no IAs were identified for sardines at this time.
5.8 Invertebrates
5.8.1. Low Mobility Marine Invertebrates
Species in this group perform all their life history stages in the general area where
settlement occurred. Thus, life history events are not performed in separate areas –
feeding, reproducing, etc., all must occur at the same location. Dispersal is achieved as
planktonic larvae and in most species, dispersal distances have not been investigated.
These species survive after settlement in areas where a combination of physical factors
creates suitable habitat. There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest there are separate
juvenile habitats for sea cucumber (C. Hand, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Some
species (e.g. sea cucumber and abalone) have juveniles that exhibit a different suite of
behaviours than adults to make them more cryptic. This cryptic juvenile behaviour,
coupled with their smaller sizes, presents problems in identifying significant juvenile
habitats and determining population abundance estimates as juveniles are often missed or
excluded from survey data.
IAs for this group may be those beds or habitats that support a high density, full age
structure, larger growth, greater productivity, or act as source populations (those that
produce successful recruits for other areas). However, for those species exploited by
fisheries, the current age structure may not be natural and the density may be altered, so
these measures may not be particularly useful for IA identification. Genetic differences,
caused by the limits of larval dispersal, may be considered in the future.
The Manila clam, Venerupis phillipinarum, was introduced to BC in the 1930s with
imported oyster seed and now supports a commercial fishery. Manila clam are found in
the upper intertidal zone of mixed sand, mud and gravel beaches (DFO 2005a). Survey
data for this species dates back to 1990 (N. Bourne, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
Concentrations of productive beds are found in the Bella Bella area and this area was
identified as an IA for its high Aggregation (Map 28). This is also the most northern
population of commercially harvested Manila clams in BC (N. Bourne, DFO, Nanaimo,
pers. comm.).
Razor clams, Siliqua patula, are found from California to Alaska on high wave action,
sandy beaches from the mid-intertidal to 20m depth (DFO 2005). The largest stock in
BC occurs from Massett to Rose Spit in Haida Gwaii (G. Gillespie, DFO, Nanaimo, pers.
comm.). The fishery for this stock is jointly managed by the Council of the Haida Nation
and DFO. This area was therefore identified as an IA for its high Uniqueness and
Aggregation (N. Bourne & G. Gillespie, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.) (Map 29).
Other species of intertidal clams are present in PNCIMA but are considered ubiquitous
throughout the study area (N. Bourne & G. Gillespie, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
These include the butter clam, (Saxidomus gigantean), littleneck clam (Protothaca
staminea), softshell clam (Mya arenaria) and cockles. Therefore, no IAs were identified
for these species at this time.
Geoduck clam, Panopea abrupta, is widely distributed from Alaska to the Gulf of
California in sandy habitats from the intertidal zone to 110 m depth (DFO, 2000b). In
PNCIMA the geoduck population seems to consist of a few discrete stocks, based on
genetic studies (C. Hand, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The locations of geoduck beds
are protected by confidentiality agreements so IAs were identified as aggregations of high
productivity and/or high density beds (C. Hand, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). A single
area was identified as an IA for geoduck clams because of its high ranking in
Aggregation (Map 30).
Four species of scallop occur in PNCIMA: pink scallop (Chlamys rubida), spiny scallop
(Chlamys hastata), rock scallop (Crassadoma gigantea) and weathervane scallop
(Patinopecten caurinus). There is limited trawl and dive fisheries for scallops however
there are no areas in PNCIMA that were identified as IAs for these species (R. Lauzier,
DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
The Olympia oyster, Ostrea conchaphila, is listed by COSEWIC as a species of Special
Concern (Environment Canada 2004a). Klaskino Inlet hosts large populations with
diverse age classes and consistently reproducing animals (G. Gillespie, DFO, Nanaimo,
pers. comm.). This area was identified as an IA for its high Uniqueness and Aggregation
(Map 31).
The only commercially harvested sea cucumber in BC is the giant red sea cucumber,
Parastichopus californicus. Sea cucumber harvest bed locations are also protected by
confidentiality agreements. Two IAs are identified for sea cucumber based on the
concentration of productive and high density beds (Map 32). More detailed analysis
could be done to compare the IA ranking on a bed-by-bed basis for CMA-level IA
initiatives for both geoduck and sea cucumber (C. Hand, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
The northern or pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) is listed as threatened under
Schedule 1 of SARA (Environment Canada, 2004b). In British Columbia, northern
abalone is mostly found at less than 10 m depth, preferring rocky substrate in areas with a
certain degree of exposure (Mottet 1978, Jamieson 2001). At the time of evaluation for
COSEWIC, Jamieson (2001) estimated that population abundance was at less than 5% of
pre-exploitation levels. The data available for the IA identification process include two
types: fishery independent research surveys and fisher logbook data. Fisheryindependent surveys have been conducted by DFO from 1978 to the present (See
Campbell, 2000, for list of survey references). Originally, these were surveys of a set of
index sites performed every 3-5 years. In recent years, researchers have made efforts to
expand to other sites in an attempt to survey the entire BC coast (J. Lessard, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Fisher logbook data is available from 1977-1990, after which
the fishery was closed (Campbell, 2000). As part of the EBSA project, the DFO Shellfish
Stock Assessment Division used the fisher logbook data to create a database with
statistical sub-area and corresponding catch and effort data for use in ArcView GIS
presentation and analysis (L. Barton, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). All areas of the
PNCIMA coastline less than 10 m in depth are potential abalone habitat and are
considered equally important to the recovery of the species (A. Campbell, J. Lessard,
DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The extremely low population density and the
conservation status of this species, combined with the lack of surveys in large portions of
the study area, resulted in no areas being distinguished as IAs for abalone at this time.
Green sea urchin, Strongylocentrus droebachiensis, is distributed on the Pacific coast
from northern Washington to Alaska. This species prefers intertidal habitats less than
140 m in depth and may seasonally migrate from shallow to deep water habitats (DFO,
2003b). Green sea urchins have a patchy local distribution, related to bottom topography
and current speed (I. Perry, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The Queen Charlotte StraitJohnstone Strait area supports high density and highly productive green sea urchin
populations. This area is also considered a core fishing region, producing high yields
(DFO, 2003b). This area was identified as an IA for its high Aggregation and Fitness
Consequences (Map 33). An additional area in the Prince Rupert area was also identified
as a green sea urchin IA because it supports dense aggregations of sea urchin and ranks
high in Aggregation and Fitness Consequences (Map 33).
The red sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus, is the largest sea urchin species in
BC. It is widely distributed from Baja California to Alaska and from the Aleutian Islands
to Japan (DFO 2005b). The red sea urchin prefers rocky habitats in moderate to strong
currents. Red sea urchins are harvested for their roe in a dive fishery. No areas were
considered significant for this species and therefore no IAs are identified at this time (D.
Leus, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
5.8.2. Mobile Marine Invertebrates
Within the mobile marine invertebrates group, there is a large diversity of life history
strategies. Most have a highly dispersive planktonic larval stage, but the degree of adult
mobility varies between species. Relative mobilities are quite different, from large crabs
and squid that can make long distance seasonal migrations to species (e.g. red rock crabs)
that tend to stay in local areas. Except for commercially exploited species, very little is
known about the life history functions of the majority of this group. Some species will be
more similar to sessile invertebrates while others have separate areas for different life
history stages. Therefore, not all life history functions are applicable to all species
included within this group. Further examination of bycatch data may prove useful in
identifying IAs for species not commercially exploited.
Three species of crab are exploited commercially in the PNCIMA region: Dungeness
crab, Cancer magister, and Tanner crabs, Chionoecetes tanneri and C. bairdi. Highly
productive areas from the fishing logbook data and research surveys conducted by DFO
were used to identify IAs for Dungeness and Tanner crabs. (A. Phillips, DFO, Nanaimo,
pers. comm.). Two IAs were identified for Dungeness crab (Map 34). The Hecate Strait
area represents the major fishing grounds for this species with significant adult
aggregations found in the shallow waters of Dogfish Bank. McIntyre Bay has been
identified as a significant area of aggregation for adult crabs. This area and the larger
oceanographic eddy found in this location have been identified previously as an area of
retention for crab larvae (Crawford and Jamieson, 1996). This feature has been captured
in the oceanography section (Section 5.10). Thus, the Hecate-Dogfish area was ranked
high in Uniqueness, Aggregation and Fitness Consequences. The second area is Prince
Rupert harbour, which is also a major fishing ground and supports significant
aggregations of Dungeness crab. This area was ranked moderate for Uniqueness,
Aggregation and Fitness Consequences. Tanner crabs support an exploratory fishery and
as yet, there is not much information available about these species. IA identification for
tanner crabs is based on research surveys done on the continental shelf break. The entire
shelf break region was identified as an IA for these species, though this area may be
modified following future research (Map 35).
There are seven species of shrimp (Family Pandalidae) exploited commercially by the
trawl and trap fisheries in PNCIMA. The identification of IAs for this group was based
on both trawl industry logbooks and research trawl data. Shrimp are found in soft-bottom
habitats of 50-200m depth (D. Rutherford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The prawn,
Pandalus platyceros, is targeted by the trap fishery, which catches humpback shrimp as
bycatch. Prawns are found in rocky bottom habitats mostly within a depth range of 50-70
m. Three PNCIMA areas were identified as IAs for shrimp: 1) Prince Rupert/Chatham
Sound, 2) Queens Sound/Calvert Island and 3) Queen Charlotte Strait (Map 36). These
areas were ranked low for Uniqueness and Aggregation. The Prince Rupert/Chatham
Sound area has the largest diversity of shrimp species and abundant humpback shrimp.
Humpback shrimp, Pandalus hypsinotus, have a narrower distribution than the other
species so areas where this species are concentrated were considered unique (D.
Rutherford, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Drury Inlet (Statistical Area 12), within the
larger Queen Charlotte Strait EBSA, has the largest catch and the most productive prawn
trap area, as well as containing humpback shrimp. The Queens Sound/Calvert Island
EBSA supports aggregations of sidestripe shrimp, spiny pink shrimp and smooth pink
shrimp (D. Rutherford, J. Boutillier, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). There are other small
areas of shrimp aggregation known to shrimp researchers but these are too small for the
scale of the current EBSA identification initiative (J. Boutillier, DFO, Nanaimo, pers.
5.9 Turtles
The North Pacific population of the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is listed as
endangered by COSEWIC. Breeding and nesting occur in southern latitudes and animals
migrate to northern Pacific latitudes to feed on jellyfish and other gelatinous prey
(Fisheries & Oceans Canada and the Pacific Leatherback Turtle Recovery Team, 2004).
Abundance and spatial distribution of leatherback turtles in B.C. waters is unclear as
sighting reports remain few and distributional data on their main prey species (primarily
large semastosome jellyfish) is sparse (L. Spaven, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.).
Seasonally, the majority of leatherback turtles are sighted from June through September
and most appear to be adults (L. Spaven, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Little is
understood about the spatial distribution of juveniles and young adults and it is unknown
whether they too migrate as far north as B.C. (Fisheries & Oceans Canada and the Pacific
Leatherback Turtle Recovery Team, 2004).
Sightings data for leatherback turtles have been collected by DFO in partnership with the
Cetacean Sightings Network (BCCSN) at the Vancouver Aquarium over the past several
years. Although several sightings are reported annually it remains difficult to draw any
conclusions about possible significant areas for this species (L. Spaven, DFO, pers.
comm.). A large IA was suggested that includes areas where turtles have been repeatedly
sighted (N. Pinnell, VAMSC, Vancouver; L. Spaven, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.) (Map
37). This area was ranked high for Uniqueness and Fitness Consequences. The use of
other areas by this species is unclear and the importance of such areas to turtles should
not be disregarded. Turtles have also been sighted at lower frequency in other locations
within PNCIMA. Surveys and sightings solicitation from the public are ongoing in hopes
of filling some of the knowledge gaps for this species. Prey-based modelling studies,
currently underway, and habitat classification may yield better data on which to base IA
identification for turtles.
Oceanographic Features
Unique physical features may be considered ecologically important because they can be
used as an easily measurable proxy for biological attributes. These physical features may
offer special conditions that in turn support ecologically significant communities. Many
physical oceanographic features such as eddies and current systems are mechanisms by
which marine productivity is concentrated or the means by which recruitment is achieved
(W. Crawford and D. Mackas, DFO, Sidney, pers. comm.). The presence of these
features is often the basis of the population dynamics and spatial structure of the
biological community (Crawford & Jamieson, 1996). Experts identified ten
oceanographic IAs for their unique characteristics, both regionally and nationally, and for
their characteristics that concentrate productivity (Aggregation) (Map 38).
The large IA that covers the upper continental shelf and the canyons/troughs of Queen
Charlotte Sound is an area of high aggregation of macrozooplankton (D. Mackas, DFO,
Sidney, pers. comm.). The tip of Cape St. James is an area where the Haida eddies are
formed. These eddies act as a center of transport because they concentrate plankton and
transport them from PNCIMA into the Gulf of Alaska (W. Crawford, DFO, Sidney; I.
Perry, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The area surrounding the Scott Islands is an area of
significant tidal mixing that drives high productivity (W. Crawford, DFO, Sidney. pers.
comm.). Dogfish Bank is the largest shallow bank in the region and serves as a larval
rearing area for a large diversity of invertebrate species (W. Crawford, DFO, Sidney,
pers. comm.). McIntyre Bay has previously been identified as an IA for Dungeness crab.
Eddies that occur here have been shown to concentrate decapod larvae and support
aggregations of a diversity of plankton (Crawford and Jamieson, 1996; I. Perry, DFO,
Nanaimo, pers. comm.). Learmouth Bank is an isolated bank that acts to trap a diversity
of plankton in the surrounding water (W. Crawford, DFO, Sidney, pers. comm.). The
narrow band in Hecate Strait is a tidal front, effective from spring through fall, which
accumulates zooplankton (Perry & Waddell, 1997; I. Perry, DFO, Nanaimo, pers.
comm.). Brooks Peninsula often has an offshore flow of nearshore waters and is a
significant north/south boundary area for many eastern Pacific species (W. Crawford,
DFO, Sidney; I. Perry, DFO, Nanaimo, pers. comm.). The entire mainland coast is an
area of concentrated phytoplankton biomass and high primary productivity (D. Mackas,
DFO, Sidney, pers. comm.). Two areas within this larger region were identified as IAs
because they are areas of particularly high productivity as a result of tidal mixing (W.
Crawford, DFO, Sidney, pers. comm.).
Parks Canada
Parks Canada identified four IAs for PNCIMA based on their National Marine
Conservation System. The proposed Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area
was ranked highly by Parks Canada for its Uniqueness. There are a number of smaller
IAs within the boundaries of this proposed NMCA but at this time, Parks Canada does
not wish to identify these until the negotiation process with the Haida First Nation has
been finalized (N. Sloan, Parks Canada, Queen Charlotte City, pers. comm.). Therefore,
the entire proposed Gwaii Haanas NMCA is proposed as an IA, with the boundary
supplied directly by Patrick Bartier, Parks Canada (P. Bartier, PC, Map 39). In addition,
three areas were identified as marine protected Areas of Interest in the central coast
region of B.C. by Parks Canada (Booth, 1998; Parks Canada, 1999). These three areas:
Laredo Sound, Goose Island Group, and Queen Charlotte Sound were identified as IAs
for their Uniqueness (Map 39, T. Tomascik and M. Pellatt, Parks Canada, Vancouver,
pers. comm.). Note that these three areas were proposed by Parks Canada through a
process other than EBSA identification, and may not meet the EBSA requirements when
examined further. The Parks Canada IAs were not subjected to the ranking process for
these reasons, and their use in the next phase of EBSA identification should be further
evaluated. For instance, representivity is a consideration in choosing areas for inclusion
the National Marine Conservation System, while representivity is expressly not included
in EBSA identification.
Provincial Government
IAs proposed by the B.C. Provincial Government were based on their Marine Ecological
Classification project. Benthic ecounits were classified by combinations of depth,
temperature, slope, current, substrate, exposure, and roughness. Pelagic ecounits were
classified based on combinations of salinity and stratification. Suggested IAs were
identified as those that are unique under this classification system on a province-wide
scale (M. Zacharias, BC MSRM, Victoria, pers. comm.). To achieve this, GIS analysis
was performed on the BC-MEC database to identify those ecounits that occur only once.
The resulting ArcView shapefiles were provided directly and are presented in Map 40
(from R. Deegan, BC MSRM, Victoria). A total of 75 unique benthic ecounits were
identified within PNCIMA (Map 40). Further analysis could be performed to locate
aggregations of unique benthic ecounits. A single unique pelagic ecounit was identified,
located at Salmon Bay, Johnstone Strait (inset, Map 40). As for Parks Canada IAs, the
ecounits were not subjected to the ranking process.
6. Important Areas
The individual maps for each set of IAs will prove useful in risk management and impact
mitigation. This dataset could be used as a checklist for managers responsible for impact
mitigation when planning activities within PNCIMA. When considered together, the
entire set of IAs almost entirely covers PNCIMA (Figure 2). Therefore, as expected,
almost every area in PNCIMA is potentially significant for at least one species or habitat
Important Area Analysis
In trying to follow the national guidelines for EBSA determination, it has become
obvious to us that a phased approach to EBSA determination is necessary. The first
phase, presented here, starts with the compilation of maps relating to habitat and species
distributions within a particular region (IAs), as was done above. A Delphic approach
was adopted and the opinions of species experts were obtained. Ranking and weighting of
IAs within and among species was necessary, since EBSAs are areas of enhanced
management and the entire coastal area cannot therefore be EBSAs. Completion of Phase
1 results in maps of ranked IAs for species and habitat features. The second phase, which
will now be briefly discussed but which has yet to be done, involves moving from a set of
IAs to identifying a logical and defensible EBSA network. Clearly defining overall
conservation goals and specifying the criteria required to be considered in analyses are
important next steps, and to achieve them requires input from scientists, managers and
stakeholders. Examples of issues that need to be addressed are:
• What process is desired to determine the relative weighting to give layers
representing different numbers of species? Options can be provided by
researchers, but a nationally accepted process would seem desirable.
• Are some species (e.g. SARA-listed, charismatic species) to be given higher
weightings? For example, does a coral species equal a SARA-listed killer whale?
Again, final criteria should be nationally accepted.
• Is there some overall desired area of the coast that should ultimately be captured
by EBSAs (e.g., 10, 20, 30 %).
• Is it acceptable to use an optimisation approach such as MARXAN to minimise
the area defined as EBSAs while at the same time meeting the criteria desired by
managers, some of which are perhaps outlined above.
Consensus is now required among researchers and managers to determine the national
process to be used in identifying EBSAs from the mix of IAs identified during Phase 1 of
the EBSA identification process.
To provide some initial insight into how such analyses might be conducted, and to obtain
a feeling for PNCIMA data, analyses of IA data were initiated with the assistance of
Murray Manson (DFO, Habitat Enhancement Branch, Vancouver, BC). However, as we
have yet to obtain clear objectives from managers to focus our analyses, analyses done to
date are simply for illustrative purposes of many of the issues that need considering. For
example, overlapping IA layers shows those geographical areas that have the most IAs
(see Figure 3a), while MARXAN analyses show those areas that are consistently
identified as potential EBSAs, given a specific set (arbitrary to date) of specific
management objectives to achieve (Figure 3b).
Once we have a final set of PNCIMA EBSAs identified, it will be possible to produce a
wall map of Pacific Region EBSAs. This set can then be compared to 1) areas already
protected by some level of legislation (marine protected areas) and 2) priority
conservation areas identified by other organizations.
7. Caveats & Special Considerations
This report is Pacific Region’s first attempt at the identification of EBSAs. In the process
of trying to do so, we have identified IAs and have encountered significant data gaps. We
also discuss here concerns voiced by regional science experts about the overall EBSA
identification process.
Data Gaps
We first emphasise that the present report represents information and data available as of
December 31, 2005. It is based on the expertise and advice of only those experts that we
were able to include (Appendix I) given our timeframe for completion. For many species
and habitat features, information desirable for IA identification has either not been
collected, analyzed or was unavailable as a result of confidentiality agreements. In some
cases, data had been obtained for the determination fishing management options, but had
not been analysed for a purpose such as IA identification. Ideally, the identification of
IAs would be based on all information, but what we present here is based on the best
knowledge available to us. While a ‘system document’ is often needed for resource
management decisions, deadlines for report preparation are often set independently of the
actual pace of scientific study and data analysis (Muldoon, 1995). This was the case here
– our requirement to have this report completed by Dec 31, 2005 did not consider the
capabilities of other science staff to undertake new analyses in support of this deadline.
Thus, IAs identified in this report should be considered dynamic, being the first step in an
on-going process. We envision a final format that allows changes to be made to existing
layers when new information becomes available and the addition of new species and
habitat layers not available at the time of publication. IAs therefore may be subject to
considerable change over time with the addition of new information. The maps of IAs
produced here are thus envisaged as part of an adaptive framework which will be
modified over time.
In light of the above, failure of an area to be declared an IA does not negate its ecological
value. There was a great deal of concern expressed to us by experts that areas that did
not make the list of IAs would never be given a later chance to become EBSAs or Marine
Protected Areas. Some areas may fail to become EBSAs purely because of a lack of
relevant available information about them. Areas may have escaped previous scientific
investigation or industry focus as a result of their inaccessibility, poor fishing yields or a
myriad of other reasons. All areas, regardless of identification status should be carefully
considered in the ecological assessment and management phases of Integrated
Management in PNCIMA.
Experts consulted were sometimes not able to provide information for the identification
of IAs, and this created a challenge in ensuring that the best data possible was presented
here. Some staff approached had schedules or locations that prevented them from
meeting with us, and so input was sometimes obtained via email. Others were unable to
do new analyses on their existing data to provide the data interpretations being requested
without additional resources. Stock assessment databases are structured with a goal
different from that required to support conservation biology queries. In some cases, data
needs new analyses to provide the information being requested to address Ecosystem
Based Management-related needs. In addition, confidentiality agreements created
obstacles to obtaining some analyses.
Other Data Sources
Scientific Ecological Knowledge (SEK) was identified (DFO, 2004c) as knowledge that
should be included in the EBSA identification process. SEK was the basis of the Delphic
process employed here to identify IAs. It is not presently clear whether aboriginal
knowledge and fishermen’s knowledge, commonly referred to as Traditional and Local
Ecological Knowledge (TEK and LEK, respectively), will be incorporated into the EBSA
identification process. If so, when and what procedure would allow this to occur is
another question that needs to be addressed. Such data were not included in this process
because of time constraints. Significant effort will be required to obtain TEK and LEK,
but this information should prove valuable in adding areas of significance for ecological
or biological reasons, particularly at the Coastal Management Area (CMA) scale.
The issue of scale repeatedly came up in conversation during the IA/EBSA identification
process. The objective of the project was to identify IAs on a PNCIMA-wide (Large
Ocean Management Area (LOMA)) scale. However, the scale of IAs/EBSAs must also
match the biology and ecology of species being considered. IA identification at the CMA
scale would be a logical next step in the identification of locally significant areas. Scale is
particularly relevant when considering shallow-water, near shore species, on a PNCIMAscale map. At the LOMA scale, such areas are typically just a thin line. Also, for wideranging, low mobility or sessile species in this habitat, it is not clear whether they are
adequately captured in IA-identification process. All estuaries are significant, as are eel
grass and kelp beds, yet such features are seldom grouped enough at a LOMA-scale to
allow their inclusion in mapping. It is presumed here that such features will later be
captured at the CMA scale. Regardless, the ecological significance of such features is
recognised, and to a large extent whether IAs or not, management already treats these as
special features worthy of an enhanced level of management consideration.
As mentioned earlier, EBSA scale also differs between national regions. The two
LOMAs on the east coast have a much larger area than does PNCIMA (Figure 1).
Preliminary EBSA identification for GOSLIM included large EBSAs, whose polygon
areas on a PNCIMA map would cover most of the IM area. The IAs identified for
PNCIMA included a range of sizes, from very large IAs similar to the initial EBSAs
identified in GOSLIM to much smaller regions not seen in other EBSA identification
The data collected through the Delphic process was collected at a PNCIMA scale.
Experts utilized paper maps of 1:300,000 to 1:400,000 scales to draw IA polygons. This
process is likely to have a high degree of accuracy, in that the same areas would likely be
chosen repeatedly by the same expert. However, the level of precision for this
methodology is not high as the boundaries may change slightly with repeated attempts. It
must be acknowledged therefore that boundaries of the identified IAs are thus
approximate and the identified IAs are not meant to be viewed at different resolutions
than those at which they were created.
A Delphic approach for the identification of IAs contains inherent biases that need to be
acknowledged for results to be used appropriately. Species considered in the present
analysis are only a very small subset of the species diversity present in PNCIMA. In
most cases, species considered were macrofauna, and of these, exploited species
predominated. It is hoped that habitats of species not directly targeted will be captured in
some way by the IAs identified, but the extent to which this has occurred is unknown.
Species with economic value have more information collected for them, but they may not
necessarily be the most important ecologically in the habitats they occur in. Also, while
some aspects of the habitat requirements for some of their life stages may be identified,
often the habitat requirements of non-exploited life stages are unknown. There is also a
bIAs towards charismatic species, such as marine mammals. Animals that capture the
public’s attention have often become the focus of concentrated research effort, meaning
we know more about them relative to other species. In many cases, these iconic animals
are top predators (e.g. killer whales) that have spatial distributions that are indicative of
areas of high ecosystem productivity (e.g. feeding locations of baleen whales), but this
has not always been verified.
There is also a spatial bIAs inherent to this IA identification process. Certain exploited
areas, especially those supporting a diversity of commercial species and accessible to
fisher and research harvesting gears, have more detailed information about them, and
therefore are more likely to be identified as IAs. A major problem is that the IA process
does not allow areas lacking information to be flagged. In future stages, data-deficient
areas, some of which may be worthy of further study and special consideration under the
precautionary principle, could be identified as IAs. With advances in technology, fishers
are increasingly able to exploit previously unfished areas, such as deeper habitats. New
species and species presence records are continually being described as a result of new
surveys or better by-catch monitoring and species identification (J. Boutillier, DFO, pers.
comm.). Thus, a lack of information about an area should not exclude its importance, as
some of these areas may later be identified as needing enhanced management.
Determination of significant habitats might be partially achieved through a benthic
habitat classification process based on existing physical oceanographic data, as proposed
by Vlad Kostylev (Arbour and Kostylev 2002). This approach should identify habitats
with unique geoclimatic characteristics, which in turn might be assumed to support
unique biological communities. Biological data would be incorporated, permitting this
approach to identify areas not presently surveyed that might contain features of interest,
such as deep-water corals, that with field verification, could later justify them as being
Data Quality
The species and habitat features examined during the Pacific EBSA identification process
are diverse in their data quality. One of the issues that arose was IA identification of
data-rich versus data poor species and/or habitat features. The data quality of these
groups can be viewed as a continuum with species such as the leatherback turtle on one
end of the spectrum (data poor) and species such as herring at the other end (data rich). It
became difficult to apply the EBSA dimensions in the same manner for the two levels of
data quality, and we suggest that applying the same decision rules to each situation may
not be best. For situations with high data quality, application of a qualitative Delphic
approach may be less accurate then when highly specific quantitative decision rules could
be used. The converse would apply for data poor situations.
The incorporation of a data quality ranking scheme attempts to capture these differences.
We have not used this information in our analyses but it can be found in the associated
attribute table for each GIS layer. Therefore there is the potential to use this information
in identifying data-deficient areas, as flagged in section 7.4. This at least gives a measure
of the data quality for each of the IAs that could be used later to analyze our IA
determination process.
The ranking scheme employed in this project allowed a certain level of precautionary
identification. Those areas which seem likely to be important habitats could be identified
under the current decision model by using lower ranks for the IA criteria and data quality.
The logical migration routes of gray whales are a good example. This flexible
identification system was especially useful where those areas with less supporting
evidence were given lowered rankings, but still included. In this way, areas with a dense
number of lower ranking species-IAs could be put forward for enhanced management as
8. Recommendations
1. At a national level, discuss and come to a consensus on the priorities and process
for use in a Phase II analysis to move from IAs to EBSAs.
2. Geographical areas where there is a lack of information available should be
flagged as priorities for future research consideration. In particular, bycatch data
should be further analysed. Such areas may contain important species (e.g.
corals), even if theses species are not presently of commercial importance.
3. The process to identify EBSAs for PNCIMA identified a need for consideration of
a science data collection and analysis policy shift so that results more applicable
to advancing Integrated Management rather than just Stock Assessment are
provided. Much data held by DFO has only been used to date for species-specific
stock assessments, and analyses have yet to be done that could support
ecosystem-based management (EBM). Data confidentiality issues typically allow
only specific people to access these data, and their work loads do not include
analyses for EBM per se.
4. The IA/EBSA-identification process should be repeated at the CMA-scale, as
many areas deemed important for species (e.g. nearshore ones) were too small for
inclusion at a LOMA scale.
5. There is be need for a Phase 3 in EBSA identification to compare the final
network of EBSAs with a) marine protected areas already identified by some level
of legislation, and b) areas of interest for potential marine protected area
designation, to determine how enhanced management for EBSAs can best be
6. The utility of TEK and LEK information for inclusion in EBSA determination
should be assessed and if positive, a process developed to allow its incorporation.
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Table 1: Final EBSA layers and shapefile names
Green sturgeon
Resident killer whale
Sperm whale
Humpback whale
Blue whale
Gray whale
Sei whale
Fin whale
Steller sealion
Fur seal
Sea otter
Pacific cod
Ling cod
Sole and flounder
Sponge reef
Cloud sponge
Bycatch areas
Manila clam
Razor clam
Olympia oyster
Sea cucumber
Green urchin
Dungeness crabs
Tanner crabs
Leatherback turtle
Parks Canada
Pelagic ecounits
Benthic ecounits
File name
Table 2: Description of the field found in the EBSA shapefile data tables.
Length Description
Number 16
Number 16
Species String
Criteria String
Seasona String
Expert String
Unique Number
Aggreg Number 16
Fitness Number 16
Natural Number 16
Number 16
Number 16
ArcView shape identifier
The number assigned to the polygon as it was digitized
Cross-reference number for the hand-drawn polygon on the paper map
The name of the species or habitat feature the polygon describes
The EBSA criteria the polygon meets (Uniqueness, Aggregation, Fitness
Consequences, Naturalness and/or Resilience)
Any notes on the polygon
Any seasonal variation for the polygon
The scale at which the polygon was digitized
The name of the expert(s) responsible for identification
Expert's ranking of the area based on the EBSA criterion "Uniqueness".
An increasing scale from 1-10.
Expert's ranking of the area based on the EBSA criterion "Aggregation".
An increasing scale from 1-10.
Expert's ranking of the area based on the EBSA criterion "Fitness
Consequences". An increasing scale from 1-10.
Expert's ranking of the area based on the EBSA criterion "Naturalness".
An increasing scale from 1-10.
Expert's ranking of the area based on the EBSA criterion "Resilience".
An increasing scale from 1-10. This criterion is an inverse where areas
with higher resilience will have lower value as EBSAs.
The expert's opinion of the quality of data on which the area's
identification was based. An increasing scale from 1-3.
The area's cumulative value score based on the experts' ranking of the
EBSA criteria (Low, Moderate and High value)
798 km
Bay of Fundy/
Gulf of Maine IM
Figure 1: Map of East Coast Large Ocean Management Areas (LOMAs). GOSLIM and
ESSIM boundaries in red with the EBSA boundary (black) overlaid at equivalent scales.
Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine IM boundary also depicted.
Figure 2: All species EBSAs overlaid on base map of PNCIMA.
Figure 3a: Simple count of all EBSA polygons overlaid on base map of
Figure 3b: MARXAN results from Run B, allowed to run 100 times with the following
parameters: targets set at 100% of ‘special concern’ layers, 50% of ‘listed’ layers and
25% of all other layers. The penalty factor was set by using the log (# species+1) for
each layer. The top 25 and 30% units chosen most frequently are displayed.
Left Blank on Purpose
Appendix I: List of Delphic participants that provided
Last Name
First Name
Organization Key
BC MSRM BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource
BC Royal Museum
Canadian Wildlife Service
DFO, Institute of Ocean Sciences
Living Ocean Society
DFO, Pacific Biological Station
Parks Canada
University of British Columbia
Vancouver Aquarium Marine
Science Centre
Appendix II: Layers considered in EBSA identification
Species Groups
Physical Features
Olympia oyster
Parks Canada
Green sturgeon
Harbour porpoise
Dall's porpoise
Pacific white-sided
Killer whale
Sperm whale
Humpback whale
Gray whale
Blue whale
Sei whale
Fin whale
Harbour seal
Steller sea lion
Northern fur seal
Sea otter
Pacific cod
Red urchin
Sea cucumber
Green sea urchin
Razor clam
Manila clam
Dungeness crab
Leatherback turtle
Macrophyte beds
Pelagic ecounits
Benthic ecounits
Tanner crab
Appendix III: Map Folio
1. Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Areas (PNCIMA)
2. Important areas identified for salmon in PNCIMA
3. Important areas identified for green sturgeon in PNCIMA
4. Important areas identified for eulachon in PNCIMA
5. Important areas identified for birds in PNCIMA
6. Important areas identified for Northern resident killer whales in PNCIMA
7. Important areas identified for sperm whales in PNCIMA
8. Important areas identified for humpback whales in PNCIMA
9. Important areas identified for gray whales in PNCIMA
10. Important areas identified for blue whales in PNCIMA
11. Important areas identified for sei whales in PNCIMA
12. Important areas identified for fin whales in PNCIMA
13. Important areas identified for Steller sea lions in PNCIMA
14. Important areas identified for fur seals in PNCIMA
15. Important areas identified for sea otters in PNCIMA
16. Important areas identified for Pacific cod in PNCIMA
17. Important areas identified for walleye pollock in PNCIMA
18. Important areas identified for lingcod in PNCIMA
19. Important areas identified for sablefish in PNCIMA
20. Important areas identified for Pacific halibut in PNCIMA
21. Important areas identified for sole and flounder in PNCIMA
22. Important areas identified for rockfish in PNCIMA
23. Important areas identified for sponge reef in PNCIMA
24. Important areas identified for possible cloud sponge sites in PNCIMA
25. Important areas identified for coral and sponge bycatch in PNCIMA
26. Important areas identified for hake in PNCIMA
27. Important areas identified for herring in PNCIMA
28. Important areas identified for Manila clam in PNCIMA
29. Important areas identified for razor clam in PNCIMA
30. Important areas identified for geoduck in PNCIMA
31. Important areas identified for Olympia oyster in PNCIMA
32. Important areas identified for red sea cucumber in PNCIMA
33. Important areas identified for green sea urchin in PNCIMA
34. Important areas identified for Dungeness crab in PNCIMA
35. Important areas identified for tanner crabs in PNCIMA
36. Important areas identified for shrimp in PNCIMA
37. Important areas identified for leatherback turtles in PNCIMA
38. Important areas identified for oceanographic features in PNCIMA
39. Important areas identified for Parks Canada in PNCIMA
40. Important areas identified for BC Provincial ecounits in PNCIMA
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