The use of ecosystem service valuation in environmental sensitivity analysis for ship-source oil spill preparedness and response planning in Chedabucto Bay, Nova Scotia
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A recent decision was made by the Government of Canada to bring its national ship-source oil spill preparedness and response regime up to world-class standards. This signaled the movement away from an approach that uses “one size fits all” standards across every region of the country, to an approach that incorporates regional differences in geography, environment, and response capacities. The main focus of this initiative is the creation of Area Response Plans (ARPs) for four identified areas in Canada with the highest risk for ship-source oil spills. Chedabucto Bay, near Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, was identified as one of these areas, and was the site of focus for this study. The main objective of this project is to provide recommendations toward the development of this ARP on the areas of highest priority for response plan development and protection. Prioritization of areas within the study site was based on the coastal habitats occurring within this region, and the values that these habitats provide in terms of ecosystem services, as well as their level of sensitivity to oil based on standard environment sensitivity indices. Ecosystem service values were determined through quantitative valuation using the benefit transfer technique, as well as through qualitative methods. Value and sensitivity were combined in an analysis in GIS to identify the locations of highest priority for focus in the current ARP development. The two main priority areas identified were the northwestern shores of Chedabucto Bay within Lennox Passage, and the areas near and within Tor Bay.