Bowie Seamount MPA

Location

Bowie Seamount is located 180 kilometres offshore and to the west of Haida Gwaii (formerly known as Queen Charlotte Islands) in the northeast Pacific, off the coast of British Columbia. The seamount rises from a depth of 3,000 metres to within 24 meters of the surface.

Ecosystem

Seamounts are undersea mountains formed by volcanic activity. They rise steeply from the ocean bottom, not reaching the surface. Scattered throughout the world's oceans, seamounts support a rich assemblage of fishes, birds and other marine life.

The Bowie Seamount MPA (Sgaan Kinghlas) encompasses a complex of three offshore submarine volcanoes. It is located 180 km off shore of Haida Gwaii and rises from a depth of 3,000 metres to within 24 meters of the surface making it the shallowest seamount in Canada. At its base, the Bowie Seamount is more than 55 kilometres long and about 24 kilometres wide. Bowie is relatively young, having formed less than one million years ago. Scientists believe it was an active volcanic island during the last ice age.

It is a rare habitat in the northeast Pacific Ocean and one of Earth’s most biologically rich submarine volcanoes. This productivity results partially from the unique oceanographic interactions between the Seamount and ocean currents. Together, they produce closed eddies and upwelled waters loaded with nutrients. Seamounts may be oceanic oases or islands of genetic isolation.

Underwater photography has recorded a large variety of organisms on the Bowie Seamount. There is a unique blend of ocean dwelling and near-shore species living in the same ecosystem. Also, a number of species listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) have been observed at the Bowie Seamount, including the Ancient Murrelet, Steller Sea Lion, Orca, and Boccacio rockfish. The fish most commonly found at Bowie are rockfish, sablefish and Pacific halibut. It is likely that Bowie Seamount supports a wide variety of birds such as Black-footed Albatross, Sooty Shearwater and Fork-tailed and Leach's Storm Petrels.

Plant and animal communities around seamounts are strongly affected by many factors, including their distance offshore, depth of surrounding waters and chance colonization. Thus each seamount, including Bowie, is probably a unique biological community. These same factors however also render seamounts vulnerable to human pressures.

To the Haida Nation, the indigenous people who played a key role to establish the Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area, the submarine volcano is called Sgaan Kinghlas. In their language it means "Supernatural Being Looking Outward". This seamount has long been recognized by the Haida Nation as a special and protected place.

Ecosystem Overview Report (2003)

Management & Conservation

The Bowie Seamount MPA conservation objective is to conserve and protect the unique biodiversity and biological productivity of the area’s marine ecosystem, which includes the Bowie, Hodgkins and Davidson seamounts and the surrounding waters, seabed and subsoil.

A Management Board for the Bowie Seamount Protected Area was established through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in April 2007 between the Government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nations (CHN). The MOU confirms the commitment to facilitate the cooperative management and planning of the MPA and demonstrates the shared goal of DFO and the CHN to protect and conserve Bowie Seamount for present and future generations.

Wolf Eel

Prowfish

Rockfish

The Management Board provides a process for the parties to exchange views and provide advice to the Minister of Fisheries & Oceans and the Council of the Haida Nation on the planning and management of the Protected Area.

An Advisory Body for the Protected Area will provide an open forum for the sharing of information and ideas between groups that might not otherwise interact, and further serves as an important connection between the Management Board, the Government of Canada, the Council of the Haida Nations, the larger marine community and the general public.

In April 2008, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the designation of the Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area.

Bowie Seamount MPS monitoring indicators, protocols and strategies (2011)

Details on the Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area Regulations (SOR/2008-124) can be found on the Justice Laws Website: Bowie Seamount Area Regulations

Activity Applications

In Marine Protected Areas established under the Oceans Act, it is generally prohibited to carry out any activity that disturbs, damages, destroys or removes any living marine organism or any part of its habitat or is likely to do so. Despite this, there are exceptions to the prohibitions. Activities that may be allowed to occur in the Marine Protected Area are listed under the ‘exception’ section of the Marine Protected Area regulations.

In addition, for most Marine Protected Areas, certain types of activities (e.g., scientific research and monitoring, habitat restoration, commercial marine tourism, and educational activities) may be allowed to occur within the MPA if a proponent submits an activity plan to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The conditions for approval are outlined in the MPA regulations.

Research and Publications
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