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Noémie Roy

McGill University
Evaluating the biodiversity conservation potential of the network of marine protected areas in the St. Lawrence

Noémie Roy, Elena M. Bennett, Dalal E.L. Hanna

Marine protected areas (MPAs) play an important role in biodiversity conservation. However, in the St. Lawrence, MPAs vary in size, level of protection and management purpose (e.g. conservation, recreation or enhancement of local fisheries). Little is known about the biodiversity conservation efficiency of the design and management strategy governing the St. Lawrence’s suite of MPAs. This project aims to fill this knowledge gap by applying to the St. Lawrence the framework used by Edgar et al. in their (2014) Nature publication to assess the biodiversity conservation efficiency of 87 MPAs worldwide. This framework evaluates the design and management strategy of MPAs based on five key criteria related to successful biodiversity conservation outcomes, which include: 1. No-take: Are there regulations forbidding all fishing in the area? 2. Enforced: Are these regulations complied with? 3. Old: Is the MPA >10 years of age? 4.Large: Is the MPA > 100 km2? 5. Isolated: Is the MPA surrounded by habitat boundaries (depth > 25 m or sand barrier of a width > 20 m), isolating it from fishing zones? To determine which of the MPAs in the St. Lawrence do and do not meet these criteria, we will collect information from existing government datasets on land use, and government reports concerning the management strategies applied. Our results will provide an overview of the current network’s potential contribution to biodiversity conservation and highlight areas in need of more attention. Preliminary findings will be presented in this poster.