The Scott Islands: A Proposed Marine National Wildlife Area
Photo: Greg Jones © Environment Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to designating the marine area around the Scott Islands as a protected marine area under the Canada Wildlife Act. In May 2014, funding was secured for the next five years under the National Conservation Plan to establish and manage the proposed Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area (NWA).
The current recommended boundary for the proposed marine NWA was developed using the best available information on seabird distributions and habitat as well as consideration of socio-economic information and integrated marine planning processes for this region. The proposed marine NWA consists of approximately 11 546 km² of an exclusively marine area that does not include the terrestrial portions of the Scott Islands, which are provincial protected areas. The Scott Islands marine NWA will complement existing provincial protected area designations for the five islands that make up the Scott Islands archipelago. Lanz and Cox Islands are closest to Vancouver Island shores and were designated as a Class "A" Provincial Park in 1995. The outer three islands of Sartine, Beresford, and Triangle became provincial Ecological Reserves in 1971.
The Scott Islands and surrounding waters together make up one of the most productive and biologically diverse marine ecosystems, particularly for seabirds, on the Canadian Pacific Coast. The Scott Islands support the highest concentration of breeding seabirds in the Canadian Pacific, and are the site of the most intensive seabird research in Canada. The area is an internationally recognized Important Bird Area, hosting over one million nesting seabirds annually, and providing important ecological breeding and nesting habitat for 40% of BC’s seabirds, including 90% of Canada’s Tufted Puffins, 95% of Pacific Canada’s Common Murre, 50% of the world’s Cassin's Auklets, and 7% of the global population of Rhinoceros Auklet.
While the Islands have varying degrees of provincial protection, the marine environment surrounding the Scott Islands is not currently protected. The ocean waters provide a key foraging area for the birds that nest on the Islands, and also attract 5-10 million migratory birds annually that may travel vast distances across the Pacific to feed, including some species that have been identified as being globally at risk by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) such as the Black-footed Albatross (near-threatened) and the Sooty Shearwater (near-threatened). Other birds in this area that are listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act are the Short-tailed Albatross (threatened) and the Pink-footed Shearwater (threatened). Species at risk that nest elsewhere in BC and can be found in these waters are the Marbled Murrelet (threatened) and the ancient Murrelet (special concern).
In addition to its importance for seabirds, the marine area around the Scott Islands has also been identified as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area due to the high marine productivity and diversity of marine mammals and fish species present, and contains important habitat for several marine mammal species at risk.
Photo: Jim Lamont © Environment Canada, 2011
Tufted Puffin, Scott Islands, British Columbia.
The Scott Islands marine NWA proposal has been developed in consultation with a Steering Committee and stakeholder Advisory Group, established in 2010. The Steering Committee includes representatives from other federal departments (Fisheries and Oceans, Transport, Natural Resources), the Province of BC, and Quatsino and Tlatasikwala First Nations. The stakeholder Advisory Group includes representatives from local and regional governments, commercial fish harvesting, marine transportation and shipping, non-renewable resources, marine conservation, sport fishing and marine tourism.
The Steering Committee and Advisory Group have held numerous meetings and calls over the last five years which resulted in a common foundation of understanding about the rationale for the marine NWA, the planning process, terms of reference for the operation of both bodies, and feedback on management goals and objectives as well as on the recommended boundary.
To date, all NWAs have been established by being added to Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations. The Scott Islands marine NWA will be established with its own set of new regulations specific to marine protection under the Canada Wildlife Act.
A Management Plan for the Scott Islands marine NWA is being developed by Environment Canada in collaboration with federal, provincial and First Nations partners, and interested stakeholders. The plan includes a vision and conservation goals for the marine NWA to guide management of the area and sets out measurable conservation objectives and research priorities to mitigate and monitor human impacts. The plan will provide for ongoing protection and adaptive management of the area.
Map of the Area
Map of the Scott Islands proposed marine National Wildlife Area boundaries
Long description for the Map
Map showing an area off of the northwestern coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The boundaries of Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area are indicated. The marine National Wildlife Area follows a portion of the northwestern coast of Vancouver Island and extends out into the Pacific Ocean, covering the waters surrounding Triangle Island, Sartine Island, Beresford Island, Lanz Island and Cox Island. The scale on the map is in tens of kilometers and bathymetry is indicated in the legend in meters.
This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.
- Regulatory Strategy for the Designation of the Proposed Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area (PDF; 141 KB)
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Proposed Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area
- Sylvia Earle Alliance/Mission Blue Hope Spots
- Canadian Geographic June 2013 article, “Birds of the Scott Islands” by Sarah Hewitt
Environment Canada – Pacific and Yukon Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas & Stewardship
5421 Robertson Road
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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