Meet New Brunswick’s only marine protected area
New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy coastline has a lot to offer: the world’s highest tides, the “flower pots” of Hopewell Rocks, and one of Canada’s marine protected areas (MPAs). Musquash Estuary, lying southwest of Saint John, NB, is the only fully functioning estuary in the Bay of Fundy. The unique properties of the estuary, from highly productive salt marshes to expansive mudflats, provide ample habitat to the migratory and year-round wildlife residents nesting, foraging, and reproducing here. This important ecosystem is well-deserving of protected status to conserve the nature and heritage of the region.
Musquash Estuary was designated as an MPA in 2006 by the federal government, protecting the ecosystem from the impacts of fishing and other industrial developments. This MPA represents an important step toward protecting the coast where the land meets the sea, considering land- and sea-based impacts in the management of the MPA. While this is an accomplishment for the federal government in protecting marine and coastal areas, Musquash Estuary tells a success story of the strength of communities in coming together to protect a highly valued area.
While Canada pursues the target to protect 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020, Musquash Estuary highlights the value of community engagement and the powerful voice of New Brunswickers in helping Canada to achieve these conservation goals. Through partnership between the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) and the Fundy North Fishermen’s Association, the MPA was proposed to Fisheries and Oceans Canada in 1998 with strong community support. Where the intertidal zone is under provincial jurisdiction, this MPA also demonstrates strong collaboration between the Government of New Brunswick and the federal government to create an MPA that spans the intertidal and marine environments. Education, outreach, and stewardship continue to be important activities in the MPA, including local communities and conservation organizations whenever possible to enable the long-term success of MPA management.
Map by Fisheries and Oceans Canada: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/mpa-zpm/musquash-eng.html
Musquash Estuary is open to the public for low impact activities, providing scenic hikes, historic shipwrecks, and launches for canoeing and kayaking. This summer, our friends at the CCNB will host the Fundy Baykeeper’s 20th Annual Musquash Paddle on August 11, providing an opportunity to explore the conservation benefits of MPAs first-hand. This MPA champions public access and community support, showcasing New Brunswick’s coastline and encouraging visitors and locals to connect with the natural wonders of this province.
CPAWS-NB hopes governments at all levels (federal, provincial and indigenous) will work with communities again to expand conservation in the Bay of Fundy through the creation of a network of MPAs. A network, instead of single fragmented MPAs, offers many benefits: protecting a range of biodiversity, safeguarding habitat for mobile species, and maintaining healthy ecosystems across MPA sites. The Musquash Estuary MPA provides an important starting point for creating a network of MPAs in the Bay of Fundy by conserving the place where land-sea meet. Musquash Estuary, together with the designation of new MPAs across habitats of the Bay of Fundy, will allow New Brunswick to become a leader in marine conservation through the establishment of a community-supported MPA network.
Add your voice to the CPAWS-NB campaign to conserve the Bay of Fundy through a network of MPAs by visiting http://www.protectbayoffundy.ca.
DeYoung, O. (2017). 19th Annual Musquash paddle—July 22. Conservation Council of New Brunswick. http://www.conservationcouncil.ca/en/19th-annual-musquash-paddle-july-22/
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). (2018). Musquash Estuary MPA. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/mpa-zpm/musquash-eng.html
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). (2017). Musquash Estuary: a management plan for the marine protected area and administered intertidal area. Dartmouth, NS. http://waves-vagues.dfo-po.gc.ca/Library/344113.pdf
Gill, J. (2016). Musquash Estuary celebrates 10 years as a marine protected area. CBC News. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/musquash-estuary-10-years-fundy-1.3681239
Jessen, S., Chan, K., Côté, I., Dearden, P., De Santo, E., Fortin, M.J., Guichard, F., Haider, W., Jamieson, G., Kramer, D.L., McCrea-Strub, A., Mulrennan, M., Montevecchi, W.A., Roff, J., Saloman, A., Gardner, J., Honka, L., Menafra, R. & Woodley, A. (2011). Science-based guidelines for MPAs and MPA networks in Canada. Vancouver: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. 58 pp.