Marine transport activity in the vicinity of the St Anns Bank area of interest: potential impact on conservation objectives
Aker, Jana Marie
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The St Anns Bank area of interest (AOI) on the Eastern Scotian Shelf was announced in June 2011 and will be designated as the next marine protected in Atlantic Canada. The AOI is intersected by dense commercial vessel traffic that has the potential to negatively impact on some of the conservation objectives associated with a marine protected area. The potential impacts include vessel-sourced pollution, oil spills, vessel strikes to marine organisms, and vessel noise pollution. My study determined that there is a quantitatively measurable relative probability of oil spills occurring from vessels in a defined study area that encompasses the AOI. I also determined that there is a high relative probability of vessel strikes to leatherback turtles within the AOI and this raises vessel management concerns as leatherbacks are listed as an endangered species under the Species at Risk Act. In addition, I determined that vessel noise represents a potential and measurable impact to whale species within the AOI, though available data for whales, including abundance, distribution and temporal residency, within AOI is lacking. Though I have identified specific impacts within the area, a more comprehensive and quantitative assessment of the potential impacts is required prior to the consideration of vessel navigation management that could be implemented by the International Maritime Organization that would reduce potential impacts.