St. Anns Bank AOI


The proposed St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area Regulations have been pre-published to Canada Gazette Part I. Read the proposed regulations.

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 local fishery officer for official coordinates.


St. Anns Bank Area of Interest (AOI) is located east of Cape Breton. It includes most of St. Anns Bank, Scatarie Bank, and a portion of the Laurentian Slope and Channel. The area is approximately 4,363 km2.

Ecological Importance

St. Anns Bank is a unique habitat on the inner Scotian Shelf and has the highest annual sea surface temperature range on the Scotian Shelf, with distinctive features within the site (Big Shoal, Scatarie Bank, and high relief areas).

The St. Anns Bank area is high in biodiversity with over 100 species recorded in this area by scientific surveys. The wide variety of habitat types, from shallow banks to the deep channel, supports this diversity.

St. Anns Bank is part of a migration corridor for fish and marine mammals moving in and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and St. Lawrence Estuary, ranging from small forage fish like herring and mackerel, to the immense blue whale. It is an overwintering area for the Sydney Bight and southern Gulf of St. Lawrence populations of Atlantic cod.

The area is an important habitat for several commercial species (e.g., redfish and halibut) and non-commercial species (e.g. sponges and corals). It is also important and for threatened, endangered or depleted species, such as Atlantic wolf fish (Special Concern, Species at Risk Act [SARA]), Atlantic cod, redfish, white hake and American plaice. St. Anns Bank is part of an important feeding area for the Leatherback Turtle, listed as endangered under the SARA. It is also a key migration route for many marine mammal and fish species.

Ecological Overview of St. Anns Bank (2013)

Key Objectives and Approach

St. Anns Bank was announced as an Area of Interest for an Oceans Act MPA in June 2011. MPA designation would allow Fisheries and Oceans Canada to protect and conserve:

  • Examples of all major benthic, demersal and pelagic habitats within St. Anns Bank MPA
  • Distinctive physical features within the site (e.g., the structural habitat provided by seapen and sponge concentrations)
  • Biodiversity at the community, species, population and genetic levels
  • The biological productivity of the ecosystems of the St. Anns Bank MPA.

The following activities would be allowed in the MPA:

  • Aboriginal food, social and ceremonial fishing;
  • Seal harvest;
  • Commercial and recreational fishing in specific zones of the MPA, subject to certain restrictions;
  • All navigation activities;
  • Any activity for the purpose of public safety, public health, national defence, national security, law enforcement or in response to an emergency;
  • Scientific research, monitoring, commercial marine tourism and educational activities that have been approved by the Minister.

Conservation Priorities, Objectives, And Ecosystem Assessment Approach For The St. Anns Bank Area Of Interest (AOI) (2012)

Research and Publications

Conservation Priorities, Objectives, And Ecosystem Assessment Approach For The St. Anns Bank Area Of Interest (AOI) (2012)

Ecological Overview of St Anns Bank (2013)

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