FEDERAL REG

SOR/2017-15: Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas Regulations

REGISTRATION OF FEDERAL REGULATION - VIA OIC DATABASE, PRIOR TO PART II OF THE GAZETTE

Registered
February 13, 2017


REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT (This statement is not part of the Regulations.) Executive summary Issues: The hexactinellid (glass) sponge reefs, located between Haida Gwaii and the mainland of British Columbia in the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, are considered to be the largest living example of glass sponge reefs that were abundant in the Jurassic Period. The reefs are made up... (Click for more)


Published on February 18, 2017

Bill Summary

SOR/2017-15: Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas Regulations

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT (This statement is not part of the Regulations.) Executive summary Issues: The hexactinellid (glass) sponge reefs, located between Haida Gwaii and the mainland of British Columbia in the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, are considered to be the largest living example of glass sponge reefs that were abundant in the Jurassic Period. The reefs are made up of large colonies of glass sponges and are estimated to be 9 000 years old. They discontinuously cover an area of about 1 000 km 2 . The slow growth and fragility of these sponges make the reefs particularly vulnerable to damage and disturbance since recovery may take tens to several hundreds of years. Due to the highly sensitive nature and structure of the reefs, human activities in and around the reefs could pose a risk to the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the reefs. Designating a Marine Protected Area (MPA) under the Oceans Act to conserve and protect the reefs will provide the regulatory mechanism to prohibit those human activities that are not compatible with the conservation objective of the MPA (i.e. the conservation and protection of the biological diversity, structural habitat, and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs). Description: The Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas Regulations (the Regulations), under the Oceans Act, designate four sponge reefs collectively as an MPA. The Regulations set out general prohibitions to protect the reefs while allowing exceptions for specific activities that do not compromise the MPA conservation objective. The MPA is comprised of three spatially distinct components to encompass the northern reef, the two central reefs, and the southern reef. Each component will have three management zones: a core protection zone (CPZ), an adaptive management zone (AMZ) and a vertical adaptive management zone (VAMZ). Together, the establishment of these zones, and the associated prohibitions, will provide for the conservation and protection of the biological diversity, structural habitat and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs through the management of human activities. Cost-benefit statement: Designating the MPA will benefit Canadians through the safeguarding of a globally unique biological phenomenon that is known to provide habitat to numerous aquatic species, including those of commercial value. Protection of the reefs as an MPA is consistent with the Government of Canada’s priority for responsible resource development. MPAs have been demonstrated to function as both a refuge and a source of commercially and socially valuable marine species, and, when used to complement other ecosystem-based management approaches, can serve to maintain and even enhance economic opportunities, such as fishing and tourism. Incremental industry costs related to the designation of the MPA are associated with displacement of fishing from the MPA and the implementation of compliance measures within the AMZ and the VAMZ. The present value of the upper bound of costs to industry is estimated to be $4,406K (discounted at 7% over 30 years) or an annualized value of $356K. Costs are not anticipated to significantly affect the fishing industry’s ability to function in the vicinity and generate revenue. The annualized value of incremental costs to the federal government is estimated to be between $100K–$200K (total present values of $1,300K–$2,600K discounted at 7% over 30 years) for management and monitoring of the MPA. While most of these benefits are qualitative and non-monetary, it is considered that the benefits generated through MPA designation would greatly outweigh its costs, due to the ability of industry to absorb the relatively small direct impacts identified for the MPA. “One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: Neither the “One-for-One” Rule nor the small business lens applies to these Regulations. No new administrative burden is expected as a result of the creation of these new MPA regulations, and the expected incremental annual costs to industry are well below the $1 million threshold that would trigger application of the small business lens. Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: Designating these areas as an MPAis consistent with the Government of Canada’s commitment to protect 5% of Canada’s coastal and marine areas by 2017, and 10% by 2020. The designation of this MPA will result in an additional 0.04% conservation of Canada’s oceans, which will also contribute to meeting the international Aichi Target 11 of 10% protection under the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Canada is a signatory. In addition, MPA designation will also contribute to the fulfilment of Canada’s objectives under Canada’s Oceans Strategy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Sustainable Fisheries Framework, the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, Canada’s Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy, the National Framework for Canada’s Network of Marine Protected Areas, and the Pacific Region Cold-Water Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy. Designating this MPA will further demonstrate Canada’s resolve to fulfill its international targets under the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), the G8 Marine Environment and Tanker Safety Action Plan (2003), the Durban Action Plan developed at the Fifth World Parks Congress (2003), the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2004 Programme of Work on Protected Areas, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (2006), the 4th International Union for Conservative of Nature World Conservation Congress (2008), and the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010), as well as United Nations resolutions calling for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems. Background Discovery The Geological Survey of Canada discovered the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs in the late 1980s. The reefs discontinuously cover an area of over 1 000 km 2 and are found in an area of relatively undisturbed seafloor at 140–240 m depths. Prior to their discovery, reefs of this size were thought to be extinct. These reefs are therefore considered to be globally unique. Ecological significance The sponges impede the movement of and trap sediments from the moderate bottom currents that deliver suspended sediments and nutrients that contribute to reef growth and productivity. The ocean conditions necessary to allow such large reefs to develop are uncommon, and the fragility of the reefs make them susceptible to damage from human activity. With skeletons made of silica (i.e. glass), these sponges are very fragile and extremely susceptible to damage from physical contact stemming from human activity. The sponge reefs provide refuge, habitat, and nursery grounds for aquatic species, including commercially important rockfish and other finfish and shellfish species. The sponge reefs also provide an important water filtration service. Physical damage to the sponges may kill individual sponges or other reef dwelling organisms. It may also destroy parts of the actual reefs and remove habitat that is used by other aquatic organisms. Increased sedimentation adjacent to the sponges beyond what occurs naturally could cause smothering and negatively impact the health and reproduction of the sponges, potentially leading to decreased water filtration or sponge death and compromising reef stability. The reefs are ancient structures, with the base of the oldest sponge reef studied dated at approximately 9 000 years old. Each sponge may live for over 200 years, and the slow growth and vulnerability of the sponges suggest that recovery from damage may take tens to several hundreds of years. The glass sponge reefs have been identified as an ecologically and biologically significant area (EBSA) (see footnote 1) within the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) located in the marine waters off central and northern British Columbia. Socio-economic significance There is little human activity in and around the vicinity of the reefs, due to their remote location and depth. The primary use of these areas is by commercial fishers, notably for trapping prawn and shrimp, for bottom longline and bottom trawling for groundfish, and for midwater trawling for hake. Midwater trawling occurs above the reefs, but the bottom trawl fishery has been excluded from direct contact with the reefs through fisheries closures under the Fisheries Act since 2002, and fishers had voluntarily stopped entering these areas two years prior to the closures. While prawn and shrimp trapping and bottom longline fishing continue to occur within the designated areas, the harvest obtained from these areas comprises less than 0.5% of the overall harvest of the above-mentioned fisheries. Crab trapping currently occurs adjacent to the reefs but not within the MPA boundaries. However, effort by this fishery has increased significantly since 2010, and the sector has been invited to engage in discussions about proposed management measures to ensure compliance should its activities start to overlap into the protected areas. There is interest from certain companies to undertake both renewable and non-renewable energy projects within the boundaries of the MPA, in particular the development of undersea cable routes for energy transmission, or oil and gas tenures. There are currently no production activities underway for either therenewable or non-renewable energy sectors. The one company working to produce renewable energy (wind) is still in a developmental phase, and no offshore petroleum extraction is expected for the foreseeable future, given the presence of the federal moratorium on offshore oil and gas production activities in British Columbia. There are 24 exploratory permits in the MPA that were issued by the federal government under the Canada Oil and Gas Land Regulations from the early 1960s to 1971. Of these, 23 permits are owned by Shell Canada with one additional permit owned by Chevron Canada Limited. One exploration licence that was issued by the Minister of Natural Resources to Petro-Canada (presently registered to Suncor Inc.) partially overlaps with the MPA. At this time, there is no oil or gas activity that occurs in the MPA. Since 1972, the federal government has maintained a moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in the Pacific offshore, which includes those permits and licence that reside within the MPA. Currently there are no commercial marine tourism activities operating in the vicinity of the MPA, and there is no expectation for new business opportunities in this sector in the next three to five years. Proposal for MPA designation In 2010, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans officially identified the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs as an Area of Interest (AOI) for possible MPA designation within PNCIMA. Designation would meet the direction provided by the Pacific Region Cold-Water Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy, which identifies the use of MPAs as an effective and appropriate tool to protect corals and sponges in Pacific Canada. Following the AOI announcement, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (the Department or DFO) undertook an analysis of the ecological, social, economic and cultural values in the area and an assessment of the pressures from human activities and their impact on the biological diversity, structural habitat and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs. The outcome of this analysis formed the basis of consultation with affected and interested stakeholders and partners and informed the development of the Regulations. The Regulations describe the MPA as three spatially distinct areas named the Northern Reef Marine Protected Area, the Central Reefs Marine Protected Area and the Southern Reef Marine Protected Area, which collectively cover approximately 2 410 km 2 . Within each area are three management zones: a core protection zone (CPZ), an adaptive management zone (AMZ), and a vertical adaptive management zone (VAMZ). Together, the establishment of these zones and the associated prohibitions would provide for the conservation and protection of the biological diversity, structural habitat and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs. The Regulations set out general prohibitions against the disturbance, damage, destruction or removal of living marine organisms or any parts of their habitats with exceptions for specific activities in specified zones that do not compromise the conservation objective identified for the MPA. Issues Glass sponges are very fragile and susceptible to damage from direct physical contact. Such damage may kill individual sponges or other reef-dwelling organisms and may destroy parts of the reef itself, thereby removing habitat that is used by other aquatic organisms. Increased sediments in the water column beyond what occurs naturally may cause smothering and negatively impact the viability of the sponges, leading to decreased water filtration or sponge death, and compromise reef stability. According to findings and research documented in reports by the Department’s Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat and in external peer-reviewed literature, fishing with bottom-contacting gear has been identified as a key activity that can cause sponge damage. The glass sponge reefs of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound are at risk from the potential impacts of human activities that can cause mechanical damage or increased sedimentation beyond what occurs naturally. Activities that have been identified as having the potential to negatively impact the glass sponge reefs include commercial fishing by bottom trawl, midwater trawl, hook and line, and traps or pots; cable or pipe laying; and construction and development of seafloor structures for renewable or non-renewable energy development. Of these activities, only fishing by bottom trawl and non-renewable energy development are currently prohibited (through a fishery closure under the Fisheries Act [in 2002] and federal oil and gas moratorium, respectively). The other activities are presently allowed to be carried out in the designated areas, as there is no overarching management plan or framework in place to limit or mitigate the impacts of existing or emerging human activities. Voluntary measures alone have proven to be insufficient for the protection of the glass sponge reefs. The Regulations will, subject to certain exceptions, prohibit carrying out any activity that disturbs, damages, destroys or removes any living marine organism or any part of its habitat or is likely to do so; or carrying out any scientific research or monitoring, or an educational activity, unless it is part of an activity plan that has been approved by the Minister. The Regulations target the long-term protection of this fragile, ecologically significant and globally unique ecosystem. Objectives The Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs MPA is established based on an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach for the PNCIMA, within which the reefs are located. EBM is an adaptive approach to managing human activities in a manner that ensures the coexistence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities. Within the PNCIMA, the intent of EBM is to maintain spatial and temporal characteristics of ecosystems such that component species and ecological processes can be sustained, and human well-being supported and improved. The MPA advisory committee agreed to work towards the following conservation objective and management approaches. The conservation objective of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area is to conserve and protect the biological diversity, structural habitat and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs. This will be achieved through The management of human activities: Human activities in the MPA shall be managed to ensure that the biological diversity, structural habitat, and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs are conserved and protected; Understanding the ecosystem state: A comprehensive understanding of biodiversity, the ecosystem state, and the background variability of the glass sponge reefs will be informed by the best available science, knowledge and information; A monitoring program: Monitoring and evaluation will be used to support the achievement of the conservation objective for the MPA; and Adaptive management: An adaptive management approach will ensure that effective, timely and appropriate management responses contribute to meeting the conservation objective for the MPA. Description The Regulations are being made under Canada’s Oceans Act and designate three MPAs, namely the Northern Reef, the Central Reefs and the Southern Reef, as the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs MPAs. The MPAs cover a discontinuous area of approximately 2 410 km 2 . Boundaries and zoning of the MPAs The Regulations establish the boundaries of the MPAs and of their various zones and identify activities (e.g. scientific research and monitoring, educational activities, or laying of cables) that may be allowed to be carried out within the boundaries of certain zones. The outer boundary of the MPAs and the internal management zone boundaries are rhumb lines (a navigational term meaning a line crossing all meridians of longitude at the same angle) described as follows: Core protection zone (CPZ): This type of zone contains the sponge reefs and is designed to mitigate the risk of direct impacts to the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs by prohibiting bottom contact activities. The CPZ consists of the seabed and subsoil to a depth of 20 m and the water column from the seabed to a minimum of 40 m from the highest point of each reef (varies between reef areas). The CPZ provides the highest degree of protection within the MPA. Adaptive management zone (AMZ): This type of zone surrounds the CPZ and is designed to mitigate the risk of indirect impacts to the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs. Vertical adaptive management zone (VAMZ): This type of zone is designed to mitigate the risk of indirect impacts to the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs in the area directly above the CPZ. It extends above the horizontal extent of the CPZ, comprising the height of the water column from the vertical extent of the CPZ to the sea surface. Through an adaptive management approach, the impacts of allowed activities will be monitored and assessed over a period of time. Additional measures may be required, or operations modified, where impacts are found to be more significant than originally anticipated (or less significant). Prohibitions The Regulations will, subject to certain exceptions, prohibit the disturbance, damage, destruction or removal of any living marine organism or any part of its habitat in the MPA. This includes protection of the seabed and subsoil to a depth of 20 m because this is considered the depth of the active biological layer necessary for reef development. Furthermore, the Regulations will prohibit the carrying out of any scientific research or monitoring, or any educational activity, in the MPA, unless it is part of an activity plan that has been approved by the Minister. Exceptions The Regulations will include exceptions to allow certain activities within the MPA under specified conditions. Within the Regulations, identified activities will be allowed to be carried out through specific exceptions to the general prohibitions and, where required, the submission of activity plans for specified activities to Fisheries and Oceans Canada for ministerial approval, in accordance with specified conditions. Safety and security Throughout the MPA, activities for the purpose of public safety, national defence, national security, law enforcement or responding to an emergency will be allowed to be carried out. Such activities may include, among others, search and rescue operations or responding to an incident resulting in the release of unauthorized hazardous waste. Fishing Certain fishing activities will be allowed within the AMZ and VAMZ only, provided the fishing is not likely to result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs, and is carried out in accordance with the Fisheries Act or the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act or regulations made under those Acts. In order to conserve and protect the glass sponge reefs, commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fishing will not be allowed within the CPZ. Commercial fishing Commercial fishing is not allowed in the CPZ. In the AMZ and the VAMZ, commercial fishing that is consistent with the Regulations will continue to be subject to the applicable licences and permits obtained under the Fisheries Act, the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and regulations made under those Acts. In the VAMZ, the Regulations will restrict fishing to midwater fishing only (fisheries that use midwater trawl, midwater hook and line, seine, or gillnet gear) and no fishing gear will be allowed to extend below the bottom of the VAMZ boundary into the CPZ. Fishing activities will be managed in accordance with integrated fisheries management plans, annual variation orders, regulations and licence conditions in a manner consistent with the conservation objective for the MPA. In consideration of the stated conservation objectives, the use of bottom contact gears in the MPA will be managed through licence conditions specified in accordance with the Fisheries Act. The intended restrictions will be revisited once the gears’ impact on the reefs is better understood and/or appropriate management measures to mitigate the levels of risk are further refined. In addition, by way of licence conditions specified in accordance with the Fisheries Act, DFO will require that fisheries using a midwater trawl ensure that the gear does not fall below acceptable depths. Recreational fishing Recreational fishing is not allowed in the CPZ. Recreational fishing will be allowed to be carried out in the AMZ and VAMZ in accordance with the Fisheries Act and its regulations. In the VAMZ, fishing will be restricted to midwater hook and line only, as long as the gear does not extend below the bottom of the VAMZ boundary. Recreational fishing activities will be managed in accordance with integrated fisheries management plans, annual variation orders, regulations and licence conditions in a manner consistent with the conservation objective for the MPA. Aboriginal fishing Fishing by Aboriginal peoples will continue in the AMZ and VAMZ subject to the applicable authorizations, licences and permits obtained under the Fisheries Act or the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act or regulations made under those acts, in a manner consistent with the conservation objective for the MPA. To help realize the conservation objective of the MPA, the Regulations will not allow fishing by Aboriginal peoples in the CPZ. Vessel traffic Vessel navigation in the AMZ and VAMZ will be allowed to be carried out in accordance with the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations, provided that the vessel’s anchor does not enter the CPZ. Cable installation Cable laying, maintenance or repair will be allowed only in the AMZ if it is not likely to result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs. Activities requiring an activity plan Scientific research or monitoring and educational activities may occur within specific zones of the MPA under specified conditions. To ensure that activities undertaken in the MPA support the conservation objective, an activity plan that contains specified information related to the activities will have to be submitted to and approved by the Minister. The potential impacts of a proposed activity will be considered in the context of cumulative environmental effects of all past and current activities carried out within the MPA. In order to evaluate the impact of the proposed activities on the glass sponge reefs, submitted activity plans will have to contain information regarding (1) the name of the person responsible for the proposed activity; (2) the name of the vessel(s) proposed to carry out the activity; (3) the proposed dates of entry into and exit from the MPA and geographic coordinates of the sites of the proposed activity; (4) a list of any substances that may be deposited during the proposed activity in the Marine Protected Areas — other than substances that are authorized by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations to be deposited in the navigation of a vessel — and the quantity and concentration of each substance; (5) a detailed description of the activity and its purpose; (6) a general description of any anticipated studies, reports or other work that would result from the proposed activity and anticipated date of completion; (7) a description of any scientific research or monitoring, or educational activities, that the person has previously carried out in the MPA or anticipates carrying out; and (8) a description of any measures that will be taken to monitor, avoid, minimize or mitigate any environmental effects of the proposed activity. Under this approach, the Minister will approve or not approve an activity plan within 60 days from the day the plan is received. Submitters can amend their activity plan at any time before it is approved or not approved by the Minister; however, where an amended plan is submitted, the time for evaluation would be reset to 60 days regardless of the date of the proposed activity. Please note that activities approved by way of an activity plan are subject to all other federal requirements and must obtain all necessary authorizations required under other legislation. Scientific research and monitoring The Minister would approve an activity plan or amended activity plan if the scientific research or monitoring increases the knowledge of the biological diversity, structural habitat or ecosystem function of the MPA; assists in the management of those areas; or assists in evaluating the effectiveness of any measures taken to conserve and protect the MPA. The Minister will not approve an activity plan if the activity set out in the plan is likely to adversely impact the biological, chemical or oceanographic processes that maintain or enhance the biodiversity, structural habitat or ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs in the MPA. Education The Minister would approve an activity plan or amended activity plan if the educational activities set out in the plan and to be carried out in the AMZ and/or VAMZ increase public awareness of the MPA and are not likely result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs in the MPA. Cumulative environmental effects The Minister will not approve an activity plan if any cumulative environmental effects of the proposed activity, in combination with any other past and current activities carried out in the MPAs, are likely to adversely impact the biological, chemical or oceanographic processes that maintain or enhance the biological diversity, structural habitat or ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs. Deleterious substances The Minister will not approve an activity plan if any substances that may be deposited during the proposed activity are described in paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition of “deleterious substance” in subsection 34(1) of the Fisheries Act, unless the deposit of the substance is authorized under subsection 36(4) of that Act. Studies and data In order to assist in the continued conservation and protection of the glass sponge reefs ecosystem, any person whose activity plan is approved by the Minister will have to provide the Minister with a copy of any study, report or other work, together with the data, that results from the activity and is related to the conservation and protection of the MPA. The copy of the study, report or other work, and the data, will have to be provided to the Minister within 90 days of the completion of the study, report or other work. If the study, report or other work is not completed within a period of three years after the last day of the scientific research or monitoring activity or educational activity, the person will have to submit the data that resulted from the activity to the Minister within 90 days after that period. Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered Status quo The Regulations are required, in addition to the existing regulatory mechanisms, to conserve and protect the glass sponge reefs and their ecosystem functions. Although certain marine activities may be regulated under provisions of the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and other federal legislation, a particular unifying authority (i.e. an MPA designation) is considered necessary to conserve and protect the reefs, and in particular to prohibit certain classes of activities to protect this ecosystem from current and potential future pressures. The status quo fails to provide an appropriate level of comprehensive and enduring protection. Voluntary measures Voluntary measures alone have been proven to be insufficient for the protection of the glass sponge reefs. In 2000, the groundfish trawl fishery implemented a voluntary closure as a means to protect the reefs from physical contact with bottom-contact gear. However, interactions were not sufficiently decreased, and in 2002, a closure was implemented under the Fisheries Act. Additionally, a voluntary approach does not provide a regulatory regime and accompanying management measures, making monitoring and enforcement difficult, if not impossible. MPA designated under the Oceans Act An MPA designated under the Oceans Act is considered to be the most appropriate tool currently available to provide the protection required for the glass sponge reefs because it is the only option that prioritizes their protection through the management of multiple human activities over the long term. While the Regulations provide the primary tool for protecting the MPA, they in no way lessen the environmental provisions of other legislation, regulations and policies that otherwise contribute to reef protection through an integrated management approach. Benefits and costs Benefits Designation of the MPA benefits Canadians through the safeguarding of a globally unique biological phenomenon, which is known to provide habitat to numerous aquatic species, including those of commercial value. Designation serves to mitigate direct and indirect risks to the glass sponge reefs in a comprehensive, long-term manner, providing certainty and an integrated management approach for marine users. The MPA also allows ongoing research to improve understanding of the function and interaction of species, communities and ecosystems, and to establish an environmental baseline for monitoring to inform adaptive and responsible resource management. Canadians There is likely to be an increase to the indirect and non-use values associated with MPA designation, but as these are non-market values, they are not easily quantified. However, the existence of these values will benefit consumer surplus, as non-market value associated with enhanced protection is derived from the value society places on the reefs and their current and future contribution to a strong and healthy ecosystem. Fisheries Benefits to fisheries may include increases in direct use value and producer surplus, due to the potential for positive harvest spillover to areas adjacent to the MPA that may result from an increase in stock abundance within the protected areas. While the probability of spillover from this specific MPA is unknown, evidence of benefits from spillover has been demonstrated in other MPAs worldwide. MPAs have been demonstrated to function as refugia and a source of commercially and socially valuable marine species; when used to complement other ecosystem-based management approaches, they can serve to maintain and even enhance economic opportunities for the fishing industry. Government Some benefits may exist for the federal government as efforts and costs associated with sustainable resource management in general, and management of the MPA in particular, may be reduced by the increased level of awareness of the reefs among stakeholders. Further, designation will clarify long-term management of and administrative responsibility for these important areas, providing greater certainty for marine resource users. Costs The Department’s approach to estimating the costs of the MPA designation has been to quantify the upper bounds of potential impacts. It is unlikely that the true costs of designating and implementing the MPA will be as high as the costs described below. Government As the lead authority for the MPA, the Department will bear the majority of costs. Ongoing and post-designation costs for the Department relate to the administration and management of the MPA, including the development and implementation of a management plan; ongoing enforcement, surveillance and monitoring of activities; information management and dissemination; and compliance promotion. The annualized management and monitoring costs of an MPA vary between an estimated $100K and $200K per year (total present value of $1,300K and $2,600K discounted at 7% over 30 years). Because some fishing may occur within the AMZ and VAMZ, contingent on compliance with the MPA conservation objective, there will be fisheries management costs, in addition to MPA management costs. Within the AMZ, such costs will be related to the need to create and fund a monitoring system to ensure compliance with prohibitions within the zone. If such a system is not feasible, costs will be linked to the need to prohibit fishing activities that can impact the seafloor. Within the VAMZ, costs will be related to the need to create and fund a monitoring system to improve compliance with the prohibitions within the zone. Fisheries The Regulations prohibit all fishing activity within the CPZ, while exempting some fisheries operating in the AMZ and VAMZ from the prohibitions, subject to those fisheries meeting the conservation objectives. Costs to the fishing industry will be associated with activity displacement for those fisheries that will no longer be able to take place within the designated area. In addition, monitoring and compliance costs may be incurred for fisheries operating in the AMZ or VAMZ that use midwater trawl gear. Fisheries using a midwater trawl will be managed through licence conditions under the Fisheries Act to ensure that the gear does not fall below acceptable depths. No additional compliance measures are required for other fisheries. It should be noted that there may be potential costs related to ensuring compliance with possible fisheries management measures within the MPA in the future. Displacement Costs to the fishing industry will be associated with activity displacement for those fisheries that will no longer be able to take place within the designated area. The costs associated with displacement from the CPZ will be minimal. Currently, only halibut and prawn trapping occurs within the boundary of the CPZ, and the share of total coast-wide catch originating in the CPZ for these two fisheries is very small (0.33% of the prawn fishery and 0.1% of the halibut fishery, from 2006 to 2013). Because the closure will mean that the CPZ biomass would be lost to harvesters of the prawn by trap fishery, and because most of the best and easily available fishing ground is already fully subscribed, displacement will very likely lead to a reduced harvest. This translates into an annualized loss of profits of up to $66K for harvesters and $12K for processors (total present values of $813K and $154K, respectively, if discounted at 7% over 30 years). Additional costs associated with displacement from the AMZ and VAMZ in accordance with the Fisheries Act for bottom contact fisheries are expected. This translates into an annualized loss of profits of up to $9K for prawn harvesters, $147K for halibut harvesters, $12K for groundfish trawl and $28.2K for processors (total present values of $113K, $1,825K, $153K and $340K, respectively, if discounted at 7% over 30 years). Additional costs associated with displacement from the AMZ and VAMZ in accordance with the Fisheries Act licence conditions for fisheries using midwater trawl may occur until such time that a monitoring regime is established. This translates into an annualized loss of profits of up to $68K for hake, and $13.4K for processors (total present values of $843K and $165K, respectively, if discounted at 7% over 30 years). Compliance There are no direct compliance costs associated with the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs MPA Regulations. The halibut, bottom trawl, and prawn by trap fisheries are active within the AMZ and may experience costs associated with compliance with management decisions that are consistent with the MPA conservation objective. Industry-wide, these costs will be minimal as the share of total coast-wide catch originating in the AMZ for each of these fisheries is very small (0.59% of the halibut fishery, 0.09% of the bottom trawl and 0.02% of the prawn by trap). Fishing effort in the AMZ by the rockfish and lingcod fisheries is intermittent. The only fishing activities that currently occur in the VAMZ are midwater hake and tuna fishing. The Regulations will not require any additional compliance measures (e.g. gear or ship modifications) to be put in place for any of these fisheries. There is no recurring annual use of these areas by the hake fishery and catch and effort over the reefs is often minimal to nil, especially for the tuna fishery. Hake was harvested from the VAMZ in 5 of the past 8 years, and tuna twice in the past 8 years. However, the distribution of hake in Canada is highly susceptible to change, as seen over the past 5–10 years. Possible compliance costs to industry would be related to ensuring compliance with possible fisheries management measures within the MPA in the future. Due to uncertainty over measures required to protect the reefs, the total costs of any new compliance measures to industry are unknown at this time. Costs to establish and maintain a monitoring regime for midwater trawl are uncertain but would be required to keep the hake fishery open. A conceptual upper limit on these costs can be estimated as the net revenues generated for the owners of the hake fishing capital from the AMZ and VAMZ (i.e. less than an annualized value of $68K, which represents a total net present value of $843K if discounted at 7% over 30 years). The potential compliance costs for midwater trawl in the AMZ and VAMZ are not in addition to the displacement costs described above (the costs are either compliance or displacement). If costs to implement compliance measures were to be higher, owners would simply forgo the revenue. How any incremental costs should be borne between industry and Government will be discussed with stakeholders. The Department strives to balance regulatory management and enforcement approaches, including the promotion of compliance through education and shared stewardship, monitoring, control, and surveillance activities. Shipping The Regulations recognize international navigational rights and will not place added restrictions on shipping other than prohibiting anchorage in the CPZ. Currently, vessels do not anchor in this area, so there is no expected additional cost. Existing controls under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, of other relevant Canadian legislation, and of the International Maritime Organization are consistent with the conservation objective of the MPA and will not result in increased costs to marine traffic in the MPA. Scientific research, scientific monitoring, education It is expected that increased interest in scientific research will result from the MPA being established. The Department will encourage scientific research, monitoring, and education activities in the MPA. The Regulations allow appropriate levels of access to the MPA for such activities, contingent upon ministerial approval of an activity plan. The added costs of the plan submission and approval process will be minimal, as will the associated reporting requirements. Cable installation Cable laying, maintenance or repair will be allowed only in the AMZ if it is not likely to result in the damage, destruction or removal of any part of the glass sponge reefs. No incremental costs are expected for cable installation, maintenance or repair activities from the Regulations. Oil and gas exploration No offshore petroleum extraction is expected for the foreseeable future given the federal moratorium on offshore oil and gas production activities in British Columbia. Therefore, no incremental costs are expected for offshore oil and gas or seismic exploration activities from the Regulations. “One-for-One” Rule (see footnote 2) The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to these Regulations, as there are no incremental changes to administrative costs to business. The expectation of no incremental administrative burden stems from the fact that no activities within the MPA are subject to any additional administration requirements resulting from these Regulations, other than scientific research, monitoring or educational activities. For those activities, the activity plan request asks for information that the proponents would likely already have to provide to Government in obtaining other required authorizations to do the work, so the administrative burden is considered negligible. It is anticipated that private sector businesses are generally unlikely to be proponents of scientific research, monitoring or educational activities in the MPA. Academia and non-profit organizations are not captured in the definition of a business. Small business lens (see footnote 3) The small business lens does not apply to these Regulations, as any increased costs to small business as a result of these Regulations are minimal. The costs associated with compliance with potential future incremental management measures show a potential annual impact to fisheries of less than $356K — well below the $1 million threshold. No specific administrative tasks or direct compliance costs, supplemental to measures under the Fisheries Act, are envisioned at this time. The costs associated with displacement from the CPZ are minimal. Currently, only the halibut and prawn by trap fisheries operate within the boundary of the CPZ, and the share of total coast-wide catch originating in the CPZ for each of these fisheries is very small (0.33% of the prawn fishery and 0.1% of the halibut fishery, from 2006 to 2013). The costs associated with displacement from the AMZ and VAMZ through the Fisheries Act prohibitions for bottom contact fisheries are minimal. The halibut, bottom trawl, and prawn by trap fisheries are active within the AMZ. Industry-wide, these costs will be minimal as the share of total coast-wide catch originating in the AMZ for each of these fisheries is very small (0.59% of the halibut fishery, 0.09% of the bottom trawl and 0.02% of the prawn by trap). Fishing effort in the AMZ by the rockfish and lingcod fisheries is intermittent. The costs associated with displacement from the AMZ and VAMZ through the Fisheries Act licence conditions for fisheries using midwater trawl may occur until the time that a monitoring regime is established. Costs to establish and maintain a monitoring regime for midwater trawl are uncertain. There is no recurring annual use of these areas by the hake fishery. The distribution of hake in Canada is highly susceptible to change, and catch and effort over the reefs is often minimal. There were between 1 and 4 vessels fishing prawn by trap in the AOI between 2006 and 2013 (out of approximately 226 vessels coast wide). The prawn by trap fishery is managed at a coast-wide level, meaning vessels may fish for prawns anywhere on the coast where prawn fishing is permitted; vessels are not limited to particular fishery management areas or zones. Because the closure will mean that the CPZ biomass would be lost to harvesters, and because most of the best and easily available fishing ground is already fully subscribed, displacement will likely lead to a reduced harvest. The fishery as a whole would bear the loss of that amount of harvest. It is not known how this cost will be distributed among vessels, though no disproportionate impact is expected, due to the small overall cost, and the coast-wide nature of the fishery. No impact on harvest levels is expected for the halibut fishery in the CPZ. The quantities harvested are small enough that any exclusion from the CPZ is expected to lead to some displacement of effort, but not to catch reduction. It is not possible to know if the effort displacement will lead to extra search costs through such expenses as fuel and wages. Commercial fishing enterprises will not be affected by the requirement to submit an activity plan unless they intend to also carry out scientific research, scientific monitoring, and educational activities. At present, there are no cable operations or offshore renewable energy operations in these areas; therefore, there is no additional burden at this time. Consultation The process that led to the development of these Regulations has been open and transparent, consistent with the principles of sustainable development, and based on the best available information. All interested parties, including First Nations, federal and provincial government agencies, local governments, industry, and conservation organizations have participated in the process leading to the making of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas Regulations. Area of Interest (AOI) proposal Consultations for the proposal to identify the reefs as an AOI were initiated in January 2009. These consultations took place over several months and included presentations to multi-stakeholder groups and meetings with key stakeholders, First Nations, and governments. The consultation process culminated in an AOI proposal that had been widely reviewed by First Nations, federal and provincial government departments, local governments and stakeholders. The Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs were announced as an AOI in June 2010. MPA designation In September 2010, Fisheries and Oceans Canada held an initial consultation meeting as an open invitation for stakeholders to participate on a stakeholder advisory committee known as the Sponge Reef Advisory Committee (SRAC). The meeting was also held to develop draft terms of reference for the SRAC, and to have a general discussion of sector interests and activities in the vicinity of the AOI and the opportunities MPA designation could represent. The meeting was attended by representatives from the commercial fishing sector, recreational fishing sector, regional districts, marine conservation sector, renewable and non-renewable energy sectors, shipping and transportation sector, provincial government, and from Environment Canada, Transport Canada, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Coast Guard. The North Coast Skeena First Nation Stewardship Society participated as an observer. Membership for the SRAC was formalized following this initial meeting as follows: Commercial fishing sector (one member; two alternates); Recreational fishing sector (one member; one alternate); Marine conservation sector (one member; one alternate); Non-renewable energy sector (one member; one alternate); Renewable energy sector (one member); Marine transportation sector (one member; one alternate); Federal departments (Environment Canada, Transport Canada, Department of National Defence and Canadian Coast Guard); and Observers (Province of British Columbia, regional districts, and First Nations). From September 2010 through August 2011, the SRAC participated in the detailed development of the regulatory intent (i.e. regulatory approach) used to inform the drafting of the proposed Regulations. The SRAC was able to develop a consensus-based recommendation on the conservation objective for the MPA, provide notional support for a boundary, and provide detailed advice on allowable activities, which informed exceptions to the general prohibition of the proposed Regulations. Additional bilateral consultations with other industry bodies were undertaken external to the SRAC to ensure that all interested parties were informed of progress on the development of the regulatory approach. Concurrent bilateral consultations were undertaken with the Province of British Columbia and interested First Nations through email communications, telephone calls and in-person meetings. DFO consultation records show that at least three formal bilateral meetings were held with the Province in March, April and August of 2011. Records are also available from 18 Oceans Coordinating Committee (OCC), 10 Marine Protection Areas Implementation Team (MPAIT) meetings and 3 Regional Committee on Oceans Management (RCOM) meetings held from 2009 to 2015, and show that regular updates on the Hecate AOI and MPA designation process were provided through these existing governance structures. All materials discussed with the SRAC were also discussed bilaterally with the Province of British Columbia and First Nations for review and comment. Key issues and concerns Feedback received through the consultation process is summarized below by sector. Other federal departments The designation of the MPA is generally supported by other federal government departments. The departments and agencies that attended SRAC meetings and/or were consulted through bilateral meetings were Parks Canada, Environment Canada, Transport Canada and National Defence. Natural Resources Canada also attended SRAC meetings and was consulted through bilateral meetings. The Department continues to work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to ensure the rights of interest holders are recognized. National Defence has agreed to work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada in the future to ensure its Formation Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) Manual aligns with the conservation objective of the MPA. Environment Canada seeks continued engagement and alignment with Fisheries and Oceans Canada through its work to establish the proposed Scott Islands Protected Marine Area (commonly known as Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area). No other issues were raised by other federal departments. Province of British Columbia Regular updates were provided to the Province of British Columbia through the collaborative governance structures established under the Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and British Columbia Respecting the Implementation of Canada’s Oceans Strategy on the Pacific Coast of Canada (2004). Bilateral meetings to discuss the MPA were held with representatives from various British Columbia ministries, including the Ministry of Environment; BC Parks; the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources; the Integrated Land Management Bureau (now the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) and the Ministry of Agriculture. Although, the Province of British Columbia is generally supportive of the MPA designation, it continues to have concerns over the ownership of the seabed in the context of a federal designation, and the process by which it was consulted. It is the position of the Federal Crown that the areas of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound are beyond British Columbia’s provincial boundaries and are under federal ownership. The Province has expressed a desire to be involved in future management of the MPA. While specific management structures would not be developed until after the MPA designation, the Province would be invited to participate, in accordance with the existing Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and British Columbia Respecting the Implementation of Canada’s Oceans Strategy on the Pacific Coast of Canada (2004) as well as the Canada-British Columbia Marine Protected Area Network Strategy (2014). First Nations First Nations that have claimed traditional territory overlapping with the MPA generally support MPA designation. First Nations meetings were held during the consultation process in 2011, and were attended by the Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Metlakatla, Nuxalk, and Wuikinuxv First Nations, the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society, and the Central Coast First Nations Technical Team. Through ongoing correspondence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada staff worked directly with representatives from the various groups to incorporate feedback on the conservation objective, boundaries and management measures for the MPA. First Nations observers also attended select SRAC meetings. Attempts to meet with the Lax Kw’alaams Band were unsuccessful. First Nations have identified the sponge reefs as areas of particular ecological importance that deserve special protection. Central Coast First Nations have indicated that they do not support bottom trawl fishing in any zone of the MPA, as is consistent with their general position against bottom trawling on the British Columbia coast. In consideration of the stated conservation objectives, fishing activities will be prohibited in the CPZ and bottom contact gear fisheries will be prohibited in the AMZ through licence conditions made under the Fisheries Act. Targeted discussions with representatives from the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA) on the issue of food, social and ceremonial (FSC) fishing occurred in 2011 and again in 2014. The 2011 discussions and correspondence reflected support for the CPZ being closed to all fishing, including FSC fishing. The 2014 discussions and correspondence reflected continued support for prohibiting FSC fishing in the CPZ; however, a preference was expressed for those prohibitions to occur as a result of the CCIRA’s own decision-making processes rather than through the Regulations. Concern was expressed by First Nations regarding the importance of ensuring integration with other processes in these areas (e.g. PNCIMA, First Nations marine use planning). First Nations seek continued engagement on the MPA initiative, particularly with respect to MPA management, and have identified the need for the development of appropriate mechanisms for ongoing consultation and cooperation on MPAs and MPA management. Regional districts Regional districts are generally supportive of the MPA designation. The regional districts of Skeena-Queen Charlotte (SQCRD), Kitimat-Stikine and Central Coast were all invited to sit on the SRAC. Skeena-Queen Charlotte and Kitimat-Stikine nominated observers to the Committee. The primary concern of the regional districts is that the process should be integrated with other initiatives in these areas (particularly PNCIMA). Non-renewable energy sector The non-renewable energy sector is generally supportive of the MPA designation. The primary concerns of the non-renewable energy sector, represented by Shell Canada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, are the accommodation of opportunity for horizontal directional drilling under the MPA and the zoning of the MPA in order for the area between the two central reefs to accommodate transmission cables and pipelines. To address the concern regarding transmission cables, the Regulations allow cable laying and their repair under stated conditions in the AMZ, including the area between the two central reefs. Concern was also expressed about whether seismic activity would be excluded from the MPA. It was determined that activities associated with oil and gas production, including seismic activity, will be prohibited under the general prohibitions in the Regulations. Additionally, the moratorium prohibiting offshore oil and gas activities in British Columbia remains in place. That decision could be revisited should regulatory regimes be established for these activities in the future. With respect to the socio-economic overview and analysis report conducted by the Department for the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs AOI, the industry indicated that the analysis did not explicitly consider the dollar value of potential hydrocarbon resources in these areas. Natural Resources Canada has undertaken this analysis in its report Economic and Strategic Significance of Conventional and Unconventional Oil and Gas Potential in Hecate Strait / Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs. The findings of this report were considered in the development of the Regulations. Renewable energy sector The renewable energy sector is generally supportive of the MPA designation. The sector was represented on the SRAC by representatives from the NaiKun Wind Energy Group. The main concern presented was that the area between the two central reefs should allow for the laying of transmission cables. This concern is addressed in the Regulations through the general exception for cables in the AMZ, which allows for their use and repair under the stated conditions. Shipping industry The shipping industry is generally supportive of the MPA designation. The sector was represented on the SRAC by the Port of Prince Rupert and the North West and Canada Cruise Association. Support was conditional provided that vessel traffic is allowed to occur within the MPA. Navigation in accordance with the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and its regulations would be allowed in both the AMZ and the VAMZ, provided the vessel’s anchor does not enter the CPZ. Marine conservation sector The marine conservation sector is strongly supportive of the MPA designation. The marine conservation sector was represented on the SRAC by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society — British Columbia and the Living Oceans Society, both of which are members of the British Columbia Environmental Non-Governmental Organization Marine Planning Network. Additional consultation with the marine conservation sector took place through regular correspondence and bilateral meetings. Concerns from this sector were identified over the allowance of industrial activities within the MPA, and the perception that the precautionary approach would not be applied to the management of activities which present risks to the reef, especially sedimentation caused by bottom contact activities in the AMZ. These concerns will be addressed by a management approach that includes the Regulations and a management plan that will both be based on assessments of the risks associated with human activities on the reefs. The Regulations will prohibit any industrial activities, such as fishing or oil and gas activities, from occurring in the CPZ. Additionally, bottom contact fisheries will be prohibited in the AMZ through licence conditions under the Fisheries Act; this limitation will be revisited once the gears’ impact on the reefs is better understood and/or appropriate management measures to mitigate the levels of risk are further refined. The marine conservation sector seeks continued engagement on the MPA initiative, particularly with respect to MPA management. Commercial fishing industry The commercial fishing industry is generally supportive of the MPA designation, but has noted concerns with respect to limitations on ongoing fisheries. Commercial fishing interests were represented on the SRAC, and stakeholders were also consulted in bilateral meetings. The sectors that attended SRAC meetings or were consulted through bilateral meetings were the Canadian Groundfish Research and Conservation Society, the Area ‘A’ Crab Association, the Herring Conservation and Research Society, the United Fishermen and Allied Workers’ Union, the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association, and the Pacific Halibut Management Association. Presentations and email updates were also made to various commercial fishing advisory committees, including the Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board, the Groundfish Forum, the Groundfish Trawl Advisory Committee, the Prawn Sectoral and Shrimp Sectoral advisory committees, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the Groundfish Hook and Line Advisory Committee, the Sablefish Advisory Committee, and the Tuna Advisory Board. The industry expressed concern that the process was rushed and not well integrated with other processes in the area. Moreover, they were concerned about the manner in which scientific information was presented and subsequently utilized in the decision-making process. This was especially noted in terms of varying views about the precautionary approach, namely the opinion of industry that there is currently no evidence of serious or irreversible harm from bottom contact activities in the AMZ, and that the approach utilized should allow for acceptable risk while additional research is undertaken, instead of adopting a zero-risk approach. Efforts were made to allow sufficient opportunity for input, including giving the Department more time to perform additional scientific analysis to inform the boundaries of the MPA and allowing for further opportunity for the SRAC to achieve consensus. To address concerns related to integration with other processes, the Department has been utilizing a subgroup of the existing Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board for preliminary discussions on proposed management measures in the AMZ and the VAMZ, to inform the development of a management plan. Membership of this subgroup has been expanded to include representatives of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board, the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Living Oceans Society, and the David Suzuki Foundation to ensure all current interests are represented. To better understand possible risks from bottom contact activities, the Department initiated a Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat process to examine the effects of sedimentation on the glass sponge reefs in Hecate Strait. The science advisory report and associated research documents are available on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat publications website: http://www.isdm-gdsi.gc.ca/csas-sccs/applications/Publications/index-eng.asp. Recreational fishing sector The recreational fishing sector is generally supportive of the MPA designation, but has noted concerns with respect to limitations on ongoing fisheries. Members of the recreational fishing sector were represented on the SRAC, but the voluntary nature of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board and the locations of the meetings precluded their ability to attend regularly. Presentations and an email update regarding the MPA proposal were made to the North Coast Sport Fishing Advisory Board and the Main Board of the Sport Fishing Advisory Board. Additional email and telephone correspondence was also used to engage the recreational fishing sector. Representatives from the recreational fishing sector are present at the Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board subgroup meetings discussing proposed management measures in the AMZ and the VAMZ. Canada Gazette, Part I, summary The proposed Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on June 27, 2015, for a 30-day public comment period. Relevant stakeholders, including federal, provincial and regional governments, First Nations, industry and NGOs, were provided written notification of publication through email correspondence to the SRAC. A total of 1 375 submissions were received and taken into consideration during the 30-day public comment period. Parties who submitted comments included provincial governments, academics, industry, environmental non-governmental organizations, and members of the public. The majority of these submissions were generated through an online petition facilitated by an environmental group. A summary of the comments received during the above-mentioned consultations and how they have been addressed are as follows: 1. Additional restrictions needed in the AMZ and VAMZ Several submissions made by academics, and a group of Environmental Non-government Organizations during prepublication centred on a request for additional restrictions to be placed on allowed activities in the AMZ and the VAMZ. In the MPA, the proposed Regulations would have allowed bottom trawling and other bottom-contact fisheries, as well as cable-laying, to continue in the AMZ. The comments made by these stakeholders stated that allowing these activities to continue in the AMZ presented long-term risks to the glass sponge reefs and associated ecosystem that undermine the protection goals of the MPA. Furthermore, stakeholders underscored that allowing midwater fishing activities in the VAMZ could make contact with the seafloor and damage benthic ecosystems, including the glass sponge reefs. Their assertion was that allowing these activities to continue in the AMZ and VAMZ would be in direct contradiction of the scientific information available. They strongly recommended that DFO manage these adaptive management zones to the same protection standards as the CPZ. Response: The zoning approach developed offers core protection against direct contact to the reefs while allowing for the adaptive management of activities in the surrounding zones in a manner consistent with the conservation objectives and emerging scientific knowledge. The CPZ consists of the actual sponge reefs surrounded by an additional protection area that extends over 200 metres beyond the actual reefs themselves. The AMZs allow for monitoring of activities that may have non-contact impacts while the VAMZs allow for fishing activity in the waters above the reefs (e.g. gillnet or hook and line) provided no gear enters the CPZ. Given the known vulnerability of the glass sponge reefs, their ecological importance and their global uniqueness, the Department will apply a precautionary approach to management decisions within this MPA. Currently there is not enough science to determine the impacts on glass sponges of sedimentation created by the different gear types used for bottom-contact fisheries. For that reason, upon designation of the MPA, bottom contact fisheries will be prohibited in the AMZ through licence conditions specified under the Fisheries Act. In addition, fisheries using a midwater trawl will be required to ensure their gear does not fall below acceptable depths, specified in licence conditions under the Fisheries Act, so they don’t cause direct damage to the reefs or touch the seafloor and increase sedimentation. The Department will continue to consider the best available data and information (studies done by academia, ENGOs, DFO and the fishing industry, and national and international scientific publications, etc.) to support an adaptive management approach in the MPA. Future management decisions could be informed by improved scientific understanding of the effects of sedimentation on the glass sponge reefs, the variable effects of different fishing gears on sediment re-suspension and the specific risks of various fishing methods to the reefs. Adaptive management approaches will be applied, which allows the Department to be flexible and to prohibit any future activities (e.g. through the management of fisheries under the Fisheries Act) that may pose a risk to the reefs should new evidence come to light. 2. Additional analysis needed on the cumulative effects of all conservations initiatives coast wide Some of the submissions requested the Department to start tracking the cumulative socio-economic impacts of all conservation initiatives that are currently taking place off the coast of British Columbia, rather than the incremental impacts of individual initiatives. Examples of initiatives cited include fisheries closures, rockfish conservation areas, National Marine Conservation Areas, and the proposed Scott Islands Protected Marine Area. Some stakeholders have requested that these areas be linked to an overall protected area framework for British Columbia. Response: The Department takes an integrated approach in managing the marine environment. In developing the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs MPA, the Department considered existing and proposed conservation initiatives, and the cumulative socio-economic impacts of these measures on ocean users. In addition, moving forward, the Department will take a network approach in identifying possible future MPAs, consistent with the Canada – British Columbia Marine Protected Area Network Strategy. Stakeholders and interested parties will continue to be consulted during the MPA network development process. 3. Ensuring an advisory committee is established to support the Government of Canada in management efforts Multiple comments were received during the prepublication period that referenced the need for an integrated advisory process with diverse stakeholders who would have a role to play in the ongoing management of the MPA, including the development of a management plan. Response: The Department has taken a collaborative and consultative approach in developing advice for the Minister on the regulatory measures in the area. The current Sponge Reef Advisory Committee, developed for the purpose of providing advice during the MPA regulatory development process, is made up of federal partners, First Nations, industry and conservation sector stakeholders. Upon designation of the MPA, the existing SRAC will dissolve and interested parties will be invited to take part in a new consultative body established to provide advice for the ongoing operational management of the MPA. The Department will lead and facilitate the development of future management plans through a coordinated and cooperative effort with other government departments, boards, and agencies; however, a process to develop, review, approve and implement future plans has not yet been defined. The Department intends to use external expertise and capacity as much as possible. 4. Other A number of comments were received during the prepublication period that were unrelated to the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs MPA. The comments received were forwarded to the relevant sectors in the Department for consideration. Directed consultations after prepublication The commercial fishing sector supported the proposed Regulations on the understanding that fishing would be permitted in the AMZ and VAMZ. However, in considering comments received during the prepublication period calling for stronger protection in the MPA, and based on science advice that was not available during the MPA consultation process from 2010–2011, the Department has since decided to further restrict fishing activities within the AMZ and VAMZ to reflect a more precautionary approach. Therefore, the Department reconvened the Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board Sponge-Reef Working Group on November 1, 2016, to discuss the new management measures that would be implemented in the AMZ and VAMZ. The Department subsequently met with the Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board on November 17, 2016, with the BC Seafood Alliance on November 18, 2016, and attended advisory meetings for halibut (November 25, 2016), prawn (December 1, 2016) and groundfish trawl (December 2, 2016) to provide further information on the new fishing restrictions. The industry does not support the intent to use the Fisheries Act to prohibit bottom contact fisheries in the AMZ, and feels that the consultation to support these measures was not sufficient. They expressed concerns that this approach was too restrictive given the degree of uncertainty in the science advice, and that measures could be developed to meet the conservation objective without requiring a full closure to bottom contact fisheries in the AMZ. The Minister received a letter on November 17, 2016, from the BC Commercial Fishing Caucus and a letter on November 22, 2016, from the BC Seafood Alliance formally expressing the fishing industry’s concerns with the change in fisheries management measures for the AMZ, and indicating that the changes undermine the collaborative work done to date to protect the reefs and the fisheries that surround them. In order to ensure the protection and conservation of the glass sponge reefs, the Department will apply a precautionary approach to management decisions within this MPA and will prohibit bottom contact gears in the AMZ, through licence conditions under the Fisheries Act, upon designation of the MPA. The Department will continue to gather data and information to support an adaptive management approach in the MPA, and will consider results from any further research on the specific risks of various fishing methods to the reefs. The additional measures will be considered in developing a management plan for the MPA and may be revisited as fishing-related impacts are better understood and as appropriate management measures to mitigate the levels of risk are further refined. Rationale As per the approach described in the National Framework for Establishing and Managing Marine Protected Areas (1999), an overview and assessment of the area of interest was undertaken to determine the ecological, social, economic, and cultural significance of the glass sponge reefs. This information, which is summarized in the paragraphs below, supported the development of this regulatory initiative. Ecological significance The existence and formation of the reefs require a combination of unique geological conditions and the presence of particular reef-forming species of glass sponges. Small patches of reefs grow over time and coalesce to form large, irregular structures covering a discontinuous area of 1 000 km 2 and extending to 25 m in height. They are located in glacial troughs at depths between 140 m and 240 m and occur in areas with large, steep reef mounds and ridges and vast, flat sponge meadows. The sponges that make up the glass sponge reefs are unique habitat-forming species, long-lived and highly sensitive to disturbance, and are known to be nursery grounds for commercially important rockfish, finfish and shellfish species. The MPA designation will provide a broad-based umbrella of long-term protection to safeguard this unique and fragile marine feature, to prevent species loss and allow ecosystem concerns to be addressed in a comprehensive manner through proactive regulation and integrated management. Social and economic significance The Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound glass sponge reefs are nationally and globally recognized as an important and exceptional marine habitat. General public support for the MPA has been high, as Canadians increasingly recognize the importance of proactive marine conservation and biodiversity protection. This public enthusiasm is exemplified by hundreds of letters encouraging protection written to the Department. MPAs in general have been shown to result in a number of social and economic benefits such as sustainable fisheries, enhanced recreational opportunities, more effective outreach and education, and enhanced research and monitoring opportunities. The designation of this MPA may help support these social and economic benefits as well. Currently, scientific knowledge about deep sea and glass sponge reef ecosystems and the factors influencing them is limited. As a relatively undisturbed and unique ecosystem, the MPA will serve as an important reference area that supports research opportunities, allows for a better understanding of the ecological processes at work in glass sponge environments, and improves understanding of their importance to fish and invertebrates. Cultural significance The MPA falls within claimed traditional territories for a number of coastal First Nations, as its boundaries overlap those identified in statements of intent filed with the British Columbia Treaty Commission by the Tsimshian First Nations (Gitga’at, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum and Metlakatla), the Heiltsuk First Nation and the Wuikinuxv First Nation. All of these groups are currently engaged in marine planning processes for their claimed traditional territories. The sponge reefs are of particular interest to the Gitxaala First Nation, the Gitga’at First Nation, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, the Heiltsuk First Nation, and the Wuikinuxv First Nation. The following sections were provided by First Nations groups to reflect their views of the cultural significance of the glass sponge reefs. Gitxaala First Nation Gitxaala First Nation representatives maintain the following: “Specifically, the northern and central reef areas have an important place in the history of the Gitxaala people. Through discussions with Gitxaala Elders it is also evident that these areas have great significance to the spiritual connection that the Gitxaala people have with their territory. The stories and history of these special places have been passed down from generation to generation and continue to be an integral part of Gitxaala’s culture. Protection of these reefs would assist Gitxaala with the protection and perseverance of its status of a unique people with a unique culture.” Gitga’at First Nation Gitga’at First Nation representatives maintain the following: “The Hecate Strait portion of the Gitga’at First Nation territory is an important area for harvesting their traditional foods, and vital nursery and rearing habitat for the fish, plants and animals that sustain the Gitga’at people. Gitga’at First Nation traditional knowledge tells them that their outer waters are important areas that need to be protected. Contemporary science has not always agreed with their assessments but the Gitga’at people look to marine planning and protected area processes as a way to combine their efforts to do their best to ensure the sustainability of all of their resources.” Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation representatives maintain the following: “The marine resources in Kitasoo/Xai’xais territory have sustained their people since time immemorial. As a people, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais have practiced ‘balance’ in managing their marine resources, ensuring sustainable use that benefits current and future generations. The central sponge reef areas off of Aristazable and Price Islands are important ecological and nursery areas for many species integral to the Kitasoo/Xai’xais traditional diet. Protection of the sponge reefs would help contribute to the long term sustainability of, and access to, many species important to the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation.” Heiltsuk First Nation Heiltsuk First Nation representatives maintain the following: “The Heiltsuk people and their culture are inextricably linked to the marine environment and resources. Gvi’ilas, or ‘laws of the Heiltsuk,’ have ensured that the ocean has provided for generations of Heiltsuk people. The central and southern sponge reef areas in Queen Charlotte Sound are important ecological and nursery areas for many species integral to the Heiltsuk traditional diet. Through the long-term protection of the sponge reefs the Heiltsuk would contribute to continued access to many species important to their Nation.” Wuikinuxv First Nation Wuikinuxv First Nation representatives maintain the following: “The Wuikinuxv have always believed that everything is connected, that they are part of the ecosystem, and that their actions affect its natural balance. This belief has guided the Wuikinuxv’s management of marine resources in their territory since time immemorial. The southern sponge reef area in Queen Charlotte Sound is important to the long-term sustainability of many species important to the Wuikinuxv people and its protection is an important step toward a return to the natural balance that would ensure marine resources so integral to the Wuikinuxv are there for future generations.” Importance to Government of Canada commitments The designation of the MPA is consistent with the Government of Canada’s commitment to protect 5% of Canada’s oceans by 2017, and 10% by 2020. The MPA designation will result in an additional 0.04% conservation of Canada’s oceans which will also contribute to meeting the international Aichi Target 11 under the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Canada is a signatory. The Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 seeks to conserve 10% of marine and coastal areas through marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures by the year 2020. In addition, MPA designation will contribute to Canada meeting its objectives under Canada’s Oceans Strategy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Sustainable Fisheries Framework, the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, Canada’s Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy, the National Framework for Canada’s Network of Marine Protected Areas, the Canada-British Columbia Marine Protected Area Network Strategy and the Pacific Region Cold-Water Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy. Implementation, enforcement and service standards These Regulations will come into force on the day in which they are registered. Complementary to the direction provided by the Regulations, an MPA management plan will be developed, providing management direction on implementing the Regulations, and detailing a comprehensive set of conservation and management measures for the MPA. The management plan will clearly define the MPA’s purpose and management direction and will address matters such as monitoring, enforcement, compliance, and stewardship. It will also provide the detail required to ensure that the rationale for management decisions and approvals is clearly justified and understood. The plan will also describe and define the roles and responsibilities of any advisory bodies that may be established following MPA designation to provide advice to Fisheries and Oceans Canada regarding MPA management. As the lead federal authority for the MPA, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will have overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with, and enforcement of, the Regulations. This will be undertaken through the Department’s legislated mandate and responsibilities under the Oceans Act and the Fisheries Act, as well as other departmental legislation regarding fisheries conservation, environmental protection, habitat protection and marine safety. Enforcement officers designated by the Minister according to section 39 of the Oceans Act will enforce the Regulations for these areas. Enforcement of the Regulations and offences will be dealt with under section 37 of the Oceans Act. Contravention of the Regulations will carry fines of up to $500,000 under section 37 of the Oceans Act. Contraventions of activity approvals and conditions could also result in charges under other applicable Canadian legislation. In general, compliance with the Regulations is anticipated to be high. This assessment is based on current industry practice in relation to the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound glass sponge reefs and cooperation from partner marine agencies. Performance measurement and evaluation A detailed conservation objective and indicators focused on the structural habitat, biological diversity and ecosystem function of the glass sponge reefs will be identified for the MPA and outlined in a management plan. A monitoring plan, including indicators and associated impact thresholds developed using a risk-based approach, will provide the mechanism to determine the effectiveness of management measures in the MPA and whether the conservation objective is being met. The management plan will be reviewed every five years. Contact Christie Chute Manager Marine Conservation Program Integrated Oceans Management Fisheries and Oceans 200 Kent Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E6 Footnote a S.C. 1996, c. 31 Footnote 1 Ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs) are defined as ocean areas that are particularly important because of the functions that they serve in the ecosystem and/or because of their structural properties. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Ecosystem Science Report: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/csas/Csas/status/2004/ESR2004_006_e.pdf. Footnote 2 The “One-for-One” Rule requires regulatory changes that increase administrative burden costs to be offset with equal reductions in administrative burden. In addition, ministers are required to remove at least one regulation when they introduce a new one that imposes administrative burden costs on business. More information can be found at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/hgw-cgf/priorities-priorites/rtrap-parfa/ofo-upu-eng.asp. Footnote 3 The objective of the small business lens is to reduce regulatory costs on small businesses without compromising the health, safety, security and environment of Canadians. More details about the small business lens can be found at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/hgw-cgf/priorities-priorites/rtrap-parfa/sbl-lpe-eng.asp.

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