SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area (SK-B MPA)
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West of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia; Offshore Pacific Bioregion.
Approximate Size (km2) contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
Approximate % of coverage contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
Date of designation
April, 2008 (under the Oceans Act)
(Haida marine protected area since 1997)
- Conserve and protect the unique biodiversity and biological productivity of the area’s marine ecosystem, including seamounts and the surrounding waters, seabed and subsoil.
The SK-B MPA Regulations prohibit activities that disturb, damage, destroy or remove from this Area, living marine organisms or any part of their habitat or the seabed. Similarly, any activity that deposits, discharges or dumps substances that are likely to result in the disturbance, damage, destruction or removal of living marine organisms or any part of their habitat is also prohibited. Certain activities may be carried out within the MPA (called “exceptions” in the SK-B Regulations) under specified conditions.
The SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie (SK-B) Seamount is located 180 km offshore of Xaayda gwaay (Haida Gwaii), situated off the North Pacific coast. The boundaries of the SK-B MPA include the SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie, Hodgkins, and Davidson seamounts and their surrounding waters, seabed, and subsoil.
Seamounts are underwater mountains, formed by volcanic activity, that rise from the ocean floor but do not reach the surface. The SK-B Seamount has two distinct terraces at depths of 65–100 m and 220–250 m, and rises to within 24 m of the surface. In geological terms it is relatively young, having formed less than one million years ago. The SK-B Seamount is thought to have been an active volcanic island about 18,000 years ago during the last Ice Age.
Limited information is available about the water dynamics of the area, however oceanographic research of a similar nearby location suggests that the upper layer of ocean at the SK-B seamount likely contains an area of cold, nutrient-rich water with a high level of mixing. These conditions would increase phytoplankton growth, thereby contributing to the highly productive communities that often exist on shallow seamounts.
The SK-B MPA is also affected by regional eddies, known as “Haida Eddies.” It is believed that Haida Eddies carry coastal waters rich in larval fish, plankton and nutrients, such as nitrate and iron, from coastal waters out to the SK-B MPA, where they settle and mature.
The various oceanographic phenomena of the SK-B Seamount support a unique, rich biological community that, despite its shallowness, includes a combination of open ocean species (e.g. salps), deep water species (e.g. Prowfish and squat lobsters), and intertidal and shallow subtidal coastal species (e.g. taaXuu [California mussels] and k’aay [split leaf Laminarian kelp]).
Investigations of the seamount’s ecology have noted that due to water clarity, light can penetrate to depths of 40 m or more. The largest and most conspicuous algae, ngaalaagaas (flattened acid kelp), have been found at depths of 38 m. For most species of algae, their presence on the SK-B seamount represents new depth records, as benthic marine algae are rarely found at depths greater than 20 m in coastal waters.
In 2015 a gin gii hlk’uuwaansdlagangs (glass sponge) was discovered in the SK-B MPA, documented as the first member of the genus Doconesthes reported outside the North Atlantic Ocean and the first ever found in the Pacific Ocean. The following year, two skwaank’aa (sponge) samples were identified as new species previously unknown to science (Rhabdocalyptus trichotis and Pinulasma bowiensis). These discoveries suggest that the MPA may support other species that are currently unknown in the North Pacific and highlights the importance of ongoing research and monitoring in the area.
Management and Conservation
Management and Conservation
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Haida Nation, as represented by the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), and Canada, as represented by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, confirms a commitment to a relationship based on mutual respect and understanding and facilitates the cooperative planning and management of the SK-B MPA, including an adaptive co-management approach. It demonstrates the shared responsibility of the Haida Nation and Canada (the “parties”) to protect and conserve the SK-B MPA for the benefit, education and enjoyment of present and future generations. With this understanding, both parties agreed to work together through a Management Board to develop a management plan to contribute to the protection of the SK-B MPA.
The Management Board consists of two CHN representatives and two DFO representatives designated by the respective parties. The Management Board seeks to operate on a consensus basis and submits recommendations to the CHN and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for their respective consideration.
Management of the SK-B MPA is further supported by advice from an Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is a multi-stakeholder group that works collaboratively to provide advice to the Management Board regarding planning and management of the MPA.
- Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area Regulations (SOR/2008-124)
- Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement
- SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount Gin siigee tl’a damaan kinggangs gin k’aalaagangs Marine Protected Area Management Plan 2019
- We all take care of SGaan Kinghlas (2017)
- Council of Haida Nation Marine Planning Program
Activity application for SGaan Kinghlas/Bowie Seamount MPA
Under the SK-B Regulations, scientific research, monitoring, educational, or commercial marine tourism activities are allowed in the SK-B MPA if the activity is consistent with the Plan’s goals and objectives, increases public awareness of the area, and is approved by way of an activity plan.
Research and Publications
Research and Publications
- Bowie Seamount MPS monitoring indicators, protocols and strategies (2011)
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in April 2007 between the Government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nations (CHN).
- SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area Management Plan (2019)
- Ecosystem Overview Report (2003)
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