Protecting the migratory bird habitat at Malpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island: An identification of the management needs
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Malpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island (PEI), was designated as containing “wetlands of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention in 1988 due to its unique ecological features and importance as a resting ground for thousands of migratory birds. As part of Canada’s commitment to this convention, management actions at this site must promote its wise use and, yet, no efforts have been made to develop a management plan. This is in light of existing threats to the birds and their habitat, particularly coastal impacts from climate change, pollution from industrial runoff, the presence of invasive species, and the potential for negative effects to result from aquaculture in the Bay. In addition, while the existing policies and legislation that exist at the provincial, federal, and international level may offer some level of protection to aspects of the Bay, they do not sufficiently protect the whole ecosystem from the posed threats. This is particularly concerning as the province does not currently have the fiscal capacity to develop a management plan for the site and the federal government is unable to provide much directive as it has recently had widespread budget and departmental cuts. Recognizing the existing challenges on PEI in regards to resource management and the continued funding to provincial watershed groups even amidst a deficit, it is suggested that it is most reasonable for the management plan of Malpeque Bay to be adopted into a broader watershed management planning process.