Laurentian Channel AOI


The maps, diagrams and coordinates on this website are provided for general information and are not to be used for fishing, navigation and other purposes. Please contact your regional DFO office for official coordinates.


On June 8, 2010, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the Laurentian Channel as an AOI.

The Laurentian Channel is a deep submarine valley over 1,200 km in length, stretching from the intersection of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers to the edge of the continental shelf off Newfoundland. The area of the entire Channel totals approximately 35,840 km2; however, the AOI, located off the southwest coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, is 11,619 km2.

Ecological Importance

The Laurentian Channel was identified as an ecologically and biologically significant area. It contains the highest concentration of black dogfish in Canadian waters and is the only place where pupping occurs. It is an important spawning, nursery, and feeding area for a variety of species including porbeagle shark and smooth skate and is a critical migration route for marine mammals moving in and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Two Species at Risk – the Northern wolffish and Leatherback sea turtle are also found in this area.

Biophysical overview of the Laurential Channel Area of Interest (AOI) 2010

Key Objectives and Approach

The objective for the proposed MPA is to conserve biodiversity through protection of key species and habitats, ecosystem structure and function and through scientific research. Specifically:

The following activities would be allowed in the MPA:

  • Aboriginal food, social and ceremonial fishing
  • Seismic surveys at specific times of the year; oil and gas drilling activities in ~80% of the MPA.
  • Navigation activities; anchoring would not be allowed in 30% of the MPA
  • The laying of cables and their use, maintenance and repair, in 70% of the MPA
  • Activities carried out for public safety, public health, national defense, national security, law enforcement or carried out in response to an emergency
  • Scientific research, monitoring and educational activities that have been approved by the Minister.
Research and Publications

Research Objectives

  • Advance the understanding of the location, health and integrity of cold water corals and sponges in the Laurentian Channel MPA.
  • Identify important as well as sensitive marine benthic areas and habitats in the Laurentian Channel MPA by supporting the conduct of scientific surveys, mapping and habitat association studies.
  • Advance the understanding of plankton variability in the area and locations of enhanced productivity supporting benthos, fish and cetaceans.
  • Advance the understanding of cetacean distribution, abundance and migration in the Laurentian Channel MPA.
  • Advance the understanding of the spatial and temporal distribution of sharks and potential threats to sharks in the Laurentian Channel MPA.
  • Advance scientific studies contributing to the identification and understanding of significant or critical habitat for SARA listed species found in the Laurentian Channel MPA.
  • Developing conservation and research objectives with the help of the Advisory Committee was an important achievement since the last Advisory Committee meeting in December 2011. These conservation objectives in addition to the proposed site boundaries and proposed management approach will form the basis for the MPAs regulatory intent.


Date modified: