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Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas

Huntsman Marine offers extensive Marine Protected Area planning, baseline, and monitoring experience for use within Atlantic Canada and globally. Our experiences may be leveraged to provide a collaborative approach amongst stakeholders ranging from environmental groups and industry to the benefit of all sectors.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs
are powerful ocean management tools to protect biodiversity and critical habitats while also providing opportunities for tremendous positive spillover effects to local fisheries (e.g., lobsters, scallops, etc.). In 2023, there were 14 MPAs across Canada to protect over 350,000 km2 or 6% of our total marine and coastal waterways. These MPAs are located in our three oceans with the majority of protected area by far off the northwest coast of Ellesmere Island, Arctic Ocean in the Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area established in August 2019 and contributing 5.55% of our national marine conservation target. Coastal waters adjacent to New Brunswick are presently a minor contributor to meet the Canadian target to protect 30% of our ocean habitats by 2030 with only the Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area encompassing 7 km2 or < 0.01% of our total marine conservation target. While small this MPA has provided protection since 2006 to the largest ecologically intact estuary in the Bay of Fundy. 

If you are inspired to support Huntsman Marine efforts towards biodiversity and marine protected area research then please donate or choose other ways to support our mission today!



As noted, the Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area is the only MPA located in the Bay of Fundy. Huntsman Marine research teammates have participated in monitoring aspects associated with this MPA:


  • Taxonomy & Biodiversity – Huntsman Marine operates a well-established taxonomic identification laboratory, especially focused on benthic and plankton samples from the northwest Atlantic Ocean. We have used this expertise to process benthic samples collected from the Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area to provide long-term monitoring datasets.


  • Toxicology – Huntsman Marine toxicology capacity has provided seasonal baseline monitoring assessments with Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia) captured from the Musquash Estuary Marine Protected Area, including condition, reproductive status, and contaminant exposures as determined by the EROD assay.


There is also some interest to protect important aquatic habitats within the Fundy Isles region of southwest New Brunswick in the Bay of Fundy. There are over 25 islands within the region with many of them inhabited (e.g., Grand Manan, Campobello, Deer Island) while others are difficult to visit even by boat. This area provides spawning habitat for various fish species amongst many other ecosystem services. Dr. Claire Goodwin has been completing a multi-year effort, funded by the NB Environmental Trust Fund and Fisheries & Oceans Canada, to survey a series of locations throughout the Fundy Isles that were originally surveyed more than 40 years ago by Art MacKay. The historical and present datasets will also be archived with the Peskotomuhkati Nation to serve as an important baseline of this biodiversity rich area of the Bay of Fundy.


The largest Marine Protected Areas in the world are located outside of Canada with Huntsman Marine experience also extending to these locations to participate within various benthic SCUBA surveys to provide information for MPA designation and monitoring. These expeditions have occurred in partnership with the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute with Dr. Claire Goodwin participating as an invited taxonomic expert.


  • Ascension Island Marine Protected Area – In 2019, the entire 445,000 km2 marine zone surrounding Ascension Island was declared to be a Marine Protected Area where no commercial fishing or seabed mining is permitted. Dr. Claire Goodwin visited this MPA has part of an expedition to study the biodiversity using SCUBA. Her efforts included collection of 58 sponge specimens from 17 locations around Ascension Island at depth of 0.5-30 m. Nine new species of demosponges were described to science from this expedition, adding 50% to the number of known species while adding two new genera and on family to the known Ascension Island sponge fauna.


  • The South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area (SGSSI-MPA) – The SGSSI-MPA is one of the largest MPAs in the world with an area of 1.24 million km2 – 17 x larger than New Brunswick! This MPA manages about 4.4% of its area as a no take zone to protect the most biodiverse regions of the seabed with the remaining areas managed through a series of strict seasonal and spatial fishery management measures. Dr. Claire Goodwin recently participated in a SCUBA expedition within the SGSSI-MPA and provided an informative blog series of her time there to enhance our public engagement on marine science, environmental monitoring, SCUBA and MPAs.



St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area is located east of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia with an approximate size of 4,365 km2, providing approximately 0.08% of Canada’s marine conservation target ). The Huntsman Marine taxonomic identification laboratory has processed benthic samples collected from this MPA as part of a long-term monitoring dataset.


The Eastern Shore Islands: Area of Interest (AOI) includes nearshore waters located along the eastern shore of Nova Scotia with an approximate area of 2,000 km2. Huntsman Marine has participated in a joint multi-year SCUBA survey with Fisheries & Oceans Canada to provide baseline data on habitats and sponge biodiversity within this AOI.


In 2023, Dr. Claire Goodwin lead the SCUBA survey effort for an Innu Nation Uinipekᵘ Ocean Expedition, supported by Fisheries & Oceans Canada and lead by the Innu Nation and Students on Ice Foundation, and also including researchers from the Canadian Museum of Nature. This SCUBA survey effort provided some of the first scientific benthic habitat and species information along this specific region of the Coast of Labrador for the Innu Nation as they assess opportunities to provide additional protections to these important ocean habitats.

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