Basin Head Marine Protected Area (MPA)
Charts, diagrams and contact information on this website are provided for information purposes only and should not be used for fishing, navigation or other purposes. Please refer to the MPA Regulations or contact your regional Fisheries and Oceans Canada office for official coordinates.
Eastern tip of Prince Edward Island; Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion.
Approximate size (km2) contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
Approximate % coverage contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
Date of Designation
- Maintain the quality of the marine environment and the physical structures of the ecosystem supporting the Chondrus crispus variety of Irish Moss.
- Maintain the health (biomass and coverage) of the Basin Head Chondrus crispus.
- Maintain the overall ecological integrity of the Basin Head lagoon and inner channel, including avoidance of excessive Ulva growth, maintenance of adequate oxygen levels, and diversity of indigenous flora and fauna.
Basin Head MPA Regulations prohibit activities that disturb, damage, destroy or remove from this Area, living marine organisms or any part of their habitat, unless listed as exceptions in the Regulations or approved by the Minister.
Basin Head is a unique coastal environment containing a type of Irish moss that may be endemic to this MPA. This variety of Irish moss does not attach to the bottom and is significantly larger than plants found elsewhere. As well, it has a higher concentration of carageenan, an important thickening agent used in everyday products such as ice cream and sunscreen.
Basin Head is a shallow coastal lagoon located on the eastern tip of Prince Edward Island, near the town of Souris. The lagoon is surrounded by both agricultural land and an extensive sand dune system. Approximately 5 kilometres long, Basin Head is a unique coastal environment that the community, conservation organizations, and both levels of government are working towards protecting for generations to come.
There are many different types of animal and plant life in the area. Most notable is a unique type of Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) that may only exist within the boundaries of Basin Head.
Irish moss is a commercially harvested marine plant throughout the Maritimes, although there has been no commercial harvest in the Basin Head MPA since 2000. The type in Basin Head is a unique ecotype because it does not attach to the bottom and is significantly larger than the normal plant found elsewhere. Although the moss does not attach to any substrate, it has a symbiotic relationship with blue mussels, the byssal threads of which anchor it. The Basin Head Irish moss has a higher concentration of carageenan, an important thickening agent in every-day products, such as ice cream and sunscreen.
Basin Head has attracted the attention of both government and non-government interests for a number of years. Adjacent to the lagoon is the Basin Head Fisheries Museum, which was established in 1973 and displays the rich cultural history of the nearby coastal communities. Based on extensive public and government input and interest, DFO announced the designation of the Basin Head Marine Protected Area (MPA) in October 2005.
To help foster co-operation, the Basin Head Marine Protected Area Advisory Board was created in 2005 to replace the Basin Head Lagoon Ecosystem Conservation Committee. The Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from various stakeholder groups and government including: DFO, provincial departments of Prince Edward Island (PEI), the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation, Eastern Kings Community Council, environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs), conservation groups, academia, First Nations as well as fishing and agriculture industries.
This Advisory Board provides advice and recommendations to DFO on the management and monitoring of the Basin Head MPA including: the conservation and protection of Irish moss and the ecosystem that supports it, public awareness, education and research. An operational management plan was developed in 2009 and was updated in 2016 to identify the actions required by both government and the community to provide short and long-term protection for the area.
Management & Conservation
Management & Conservation
Basin Head MPA Management Plan serves as a guide to facilitate informed decisions in the management of the Basin Head ecosystem. Additionally, it addresses matters such as monitoring, enforcement and compliance, and provides the detail required to ensure that the rationale for management decisions, prohibitions, controls and approvals are clearly justified and understood.
- Basin Head Marine Protected Area: 2014 operational management plan
- Basin Head Marine Protected Area Regulations (SOR/2005-293) can be found on the Justice Laws Website.
- Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement
Activity application for Basin Head MPA
Scientific and educational activities are allowed in the Basin Head MPA if a proponent submits an activity plan to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for Ministerial approval.
Research and Publications
Research and Publications
- Basin Head MPA Management Plan
- Ecological assessment of Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) in basin head marine protected area
- Basin Head Marine Protected Area: 2012-2013 Management Plan Implementation Progress Report
- Basin Head Marine Protected Area : 2013-2014 Management Plan Implementation Progress Report
- Basin Head Marine Protected Area : 2014-2015 Management Plan Implementation Progress Report
- Basin Head Marine Protected Area – An Ecosystem Worth Protecting (PDF pamphlet)
- Basin Head Marine Protected Area: 2014 Operational Management Plan
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