Ecosystem Working Group

Goal: To understand the Beaufort Sea ecosystem, to identify important areas and priority species and to maintain or enhance ecosystem integrity.

The Oceans Act (Canada, 1997) states that “conservation, based on an ecosystem approach, is of fundamental importance to maintaining biological diversity and productivity in the marine environment”. Under Canada’s Oceans Strategy and Oceans Action Plan, an ecosystem approach to management is a key guiding principle for implementing integrated ocean management and preserving the health of the oceans.

Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) recognizes that human activities must be managed based on an understanding of the ecosystem and in consideration of the interrelationships between all living organisms, their habitats and the physical environment, based on the best available knowledge. EBM recognizes that human activities can have impacts on ecosystems and that the environment is also subject to natural variability. EBM aims to maintain the biodiversity, productivity and physicochemical properties of marine ecosystems.

Ecosystem objectives were developed for the Beaufort Sea Large Ocean Management Area (LOMA) through the Integrated Ocean Management Plan (IOMP). Below is a table of the ecosystems goals identified in the IOMP, which are summarized under a single goal: “to understand the Beaufort Sea ecosystem, to identify important areas and priority species, and to maintain or enhance ecosystem integrity”. The objectives aim to enhance the understanding of the ecosystem and important areas and species within the ecosystem while ensuring co-ordinated planning and management of human activities. This ecosystem goal has three broad objectives supported by a series of strategies and actions including collecting new scientific data, and co-ordinating new or existing monitoring to provide the information required to make management decisions about proposed development or other activities.

Maintain ecosystem integrity within the LOMA·  Identify all species likely to be affected by human activities within priority areas of concern·  Minimize non-indigenous species in the LOMA

·  Reduce potential sources and effects of chemical introductions from industrial activities

Protect and conserve representative marine areas and special species within the LOMA·  Implement a national and federal marine protected area·  Identify additional rare and unique habitats within the LOMA
Determine baseline environmental
quality conditions within the LOMA
·  Carry out physical, desktop and/or TK surveys to determine baseline conditions within LOMA·  Develop baseline information and determine rates of change in chemical properties of water

·  Develop baseline information on coastal processes Improve knowledge of the relationship between the physical environment and ice as well as the impacts of ice processes on the seabed and coastal environments

·  Increase knowledge of productivity in the LOMA