Nearshore Fish Diversity in Musquash Estuary: A Marine Protected Area in the Bay of Fundy

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 9:00 AM
Pope (Statehouse Convention Center)
Erinn Ipsen , Natural Resources Management, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD
David Methven , University of New Brunswick, Biology Department, Canadian Rivers Institute, Saint John, NB, Canada
Simon Courtenay , University of New Brunswick, Biology Department, Fisheries and Oceans Canada at the Canadian Rivers Institute, Fredericton, NB, Canada
Musquash Estuary, established as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 2007, is the first designated MPA in the province of New Brunswick, Canada. The main objectives for this project were to: 1) compare nearshore fish communities in three different habitats within the MPA throughout the year, and 2) assess fish community differences between the MPA and two neighboring estuaries (Dipper Harbour and Saint’s Rest Marsh). Beach seine and fyke net sampling gears were used, yielding a total of 20 species (>8000 individuals). The fish community showed spatial and temporal differences consistent with habitat structure (e.g., salinity) and seasonal water temperatures (ranging from -1 to 21°C). The MPA did not show a significantly different fish community compared to neighboring estuaries. The fish communities of Dipper Harbour and Saint’s Rest Marsh were the most dissimilar and perhaps related to a salinity gradient from the inner to the outer Bay of Fundy. We conclude that characterization of the fish community for future assessments will require seasonal sampling throughout Musquash estuary, with the inclusion of at least two sampling gears, and confirmation that the Musquash fish community does not differ from neighboring estuaries.