2020: Atlantic - Eastport Marine Protected Area


During the Ocean Bridge Atlantic Learning Journey we'll spend time exploring a number of areas around Newfoundland. Read below to learn more about these regions and to prepare for your immersive experience.


Newfoundland resettlement program (circa 1968)
Moving a house as part of the Government resettlement program

The island of Newfoundland and the larger mainland sector, Labrador (together the province of Newfoundland and Labrador) joined Canada in 1949. The island of Newfoundland is separated from Labrador by the narrow Strait of Belle Isle and from Nova Scotia by the Cabot Strait. Much of the culture and heritage of Newfoundland is shaped

by its proximity to the sea and to bountiful fishing grounds. During our Learning Journey we’ll have the opportunity to visit many ‘outport communities’ scattered along Newfoundland’s seacoast. These communities are relatively isolated and historically were established where families could get shelter, fresh water and access to fishing grounds. As I’m sure you can imagine, the fact that these communities were spread out along the seacoast and were isolated from one another meant that it was difficult for the Provincial government to extend services to these areas. This led to one of the most controversial government policies of Newfoundland’s recent history – The Centralization Program (or the Fisheries Household Resettlement Program). The program encouraged whole outports to relocate to new centralized communities by providing subsidies to those who chose to move and withdrawing government services from anyone who wanted to remain. During our time in Newfoundland we’ll have the opportunity to visit some of these outport communities and learn more from the people living there. 

Did you know? “Newfoundland is home to 95% of the world's population of boreal felt lichen, making the health of the Newfoundland population critical to the global survival of the species” (Unger, 2015).

St-John's & Petty Habour

Jellybean Row - St. John's, Newfoundland
Photo - Jennifer Gillard & DreamsandNotions, 2013

St. John’s is the vibrant and colourful capital of Newfoundland, and is the most easterly city in North America. The harbour is a crowning feature of the cityscape and was a major factor in St-John’s naval and military history. The rich and biodiverse fishing ground located in the adjacent Grand Banks combined with the ideal strategic geo-political location of the island, created favourable context for the development of the St-John’s harbour. There is a tight and shallow waterway channel connecting the North Atlantic Ocean to the St-John’s Harbour that is bordered by precipitous rock walls that is commonly referred to as The Narrows. This geographic feature provides shelter to The Harbour, but on the other hand has limited the access. Successfully navigating a boat through The (treacherous) Narrows is colloquially called “threading the needle” and requires an experienced and skilled captain.

Should you have extra time in St-John’s be sure to check-out:

  • Signal Hill Historic Site, which offers stunning views of the North Atlantic Ocean and was the frontline of defence for The Harbour
  • The Grand Concourse, which is a network of trails that connects the green and the blue spaces in and around St-John’s

Did you know? Petty Harbour has been an established Protected Fishing Area since 1895.

Similarly, to St-John’s, Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove is a seaside community with a rugged coastline and steep hills. It is only 15 kilometers south of St. John's, on the east coast of the Avalon peninsula, which is bordered by Motion Bay. In the 1500s, Petty Harbour was put on the map as the seasonal base for the Basque fishery. Fishermen used to process their catch in small sheds elevated on stilts with gabled rooftops called rooms. Today life continues to revolve around fishing; however, the community was hard hit by the 1992 Cod Moratorium.

Petty Harbour Historical
Petty Harbour Historical Hakai Magazine, 2016
Petty Harbour Present Day
Petty Harbour Present Day - Hakai Magazine, 2016

Did you know?  Saint John’s hosts the longest running annual sporting event in North America. The Royal St-John's Regatta takes place on Quidi Vidi Lake and was first documented as of 1816. It is held on the first Wednesday of August and Regatta Day is now observed as a public holiday.

Bonavista Peninsula

By Boaworm - Own work, CC BY 3.0

The Bonavista Peninsula is the southeastern border of Bonavista Bay. In 1497, John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) attempted to sail to Asia but instead landed on North America. Upon seeing North America, his first words were “O buono vista!” Local, traditional knowledge records Cape Bonavista as the landing site of John Cabot, and a statue was erected to commemorate this. Today, there is some controversy surrounding John Cabot. Many credit John Cabot with the discovery of North America; however, indigenous people and Norse Vikings were already using this land for thousands of years.

The Bonavista Peninsula is home to many communities including Bonavista, Elliston, Trinity, West Champneys, and Port Rexton. In addition to the John Cabot statue in Bonavista, there are a number of historic attractions like the Bonavista Lighthouse, which you can still climb up and view the seal oil -fueled light that was used during the 19th century. This is also a prime location to see whales, icebergs, and puffins.

Elliston is well known for its puffin viewing point, which is the closest view of puffins from land in all of North America. Elliston is also the root cellar capital of the world with approximately 135 root cellars in the community.

Terra Nova National Park

Terra Nova National Park
Terra Nova National Park (Parks Canada, 2019)

Our home base for the majority of our Remote Learning Journey is located on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. Terra Nova National Park was designated in 1957 with the aim of protecting a representative example of the Eastern Newfoundland Atlantic Region. The park’s seacoast stretches along Bonavista Bay and includes numerous peninsulas that jut dramatically into the Atlantic Ocean. The cliffs, headlands, inlets, and coves that make up this seacoast are characterized by their untamed beauty. Inland areas of the Park are typical of the geographic region at large. The area includes exposed rockfaces, rolling hills, boreal forests, bogs and fens.

Human use of the area can be traced to the past 5000 years and includes evidence of the presence of Beothuk and Mi’kmaq people. It wasn’t until the 1670s that European settlement extended into this area, attracted by the promise of bountiful fishing grounds.  

At present, key management strategies for Terra Nova National Park include (1) connecting people and landscapes, (2) sharing the stories and history of the park as a catalyst for mutual learning, (3) expanding public interest in the park and (4) building a foundation of knowledge for adaptation. You can learn more about key management strategies and objectives for Terra Nova National Park here.

Eastport MPA

Eastport MPA
Photo: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Eastport MPA

The town of Eastport is commonly referred to as the “festival capital of Newfoundland” and the town is self-described as “the quintessential 21st century Newfoundland outport community”. Eastport sits adjacent to the Northwestern edge of Terra Nova National Park and is bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean.

The Eastport Marine Protected Area (MPA) is 2km2 and was established in 2005. The MPA includes two small no-take areas surrounding Round Island and Duck Island which are both located within the larger Eastport Peninsula Lobster Management Area (EPLMA). While the area is quite biodiverse the MPA was initially designated to address the declining American lobster population and there is now evidence to suggest that the two small ‘no-take’ areas in conjunctions with conservation practices in the larger EPLMA have had positive impacts on the local lobster fishery.

References & Resources

CBCL. (2014). Town of Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove: Municipal Plan. Retrieved from: http://www.pettyharbourmaddoxcove.ca/uploads/4/8/9/5/48959877/townplan.pdf

Baker, M. (2012). St. John's. In N. Coschi & L. Fong, The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/st-johns.

Bryant, S. L., & Martin, B. (1996). Ancient rights: The protected fishing area of Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove. Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. Retrieved from http://nebula.wsimg.com/b1929c5dc7a4e8e689cc8104a2e5aa49?AccessKeyId=69502EC907C5484E6638&disposition=0&alloworigin=1 .

Delisle, R. (2016). Old Coast, New Coast: Petty Harbour. Hakai Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.hakaimagazine.com/article-short/old-coast-new-coast-petty-harbour- Bryant, S. L., & Martin, B. (1996). Ancient rights: The protected fishing area of Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove. Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. newfoundland/.

Newfoundland and Labrador. (n.d.). Welcome to Bonavista. Retrieved from https://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/top-destinations/bonavista

[Newfoundland & Labrador Heritage Website].(2017, Jun 28). The Winding Road to Confederation -Part Three: The War Years, 1939-1945 [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=_z8p0Irv8Ns&feature=emb_logo.

Ransom, B. (1982). A Century of Armed Conflict in Newfoundland. St-John’s, Canada: The Rooms. Retried from https://www.therooms.ca/a-century-of-armed-conflict-in-newfoundland.

Parks Canada. (2019). Terra Nova National Park of Canada Management Plan. Retrieved from https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/terranova/info/ges-man/gestion-management-2019#summary

Unger, K. (2015, Sept. 15). What’s the like about lichen?  Nature Conservancy of Canada. Retrieved from: http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/blog/archive/whats-to-like-about-lichen.html

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