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Lake Superior Areas of Concern

There are four Environmental Areas of Concern on the Canadian North Shore of Lake Superior

imageIf you are interested in all Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) please visit Environment Canda's website which provides a great general overview of AOCs. You can visit Lake Superior Information for a central repository of information, news and updates about Lake Superior Areas of Concern.  

An Area of Concern (AOC) is a location that has experienced environmental degradation. Forty-Two Areas of Concern were identified in 1987 by the governments of Canada, USA, Ontario, Great Lakes States and the International Joint Commission. There are ten Areas of Concern in Canada and 5 which straddle the border on Great Lakes interconnecting waterways.

There are three AOCs on the Canadian shore of Lake Superior: Thunder Bay, Nipigon Bay, and Peninsula Harbour (at Marathon, Ontario). The AOC at Jackfish Bay (near Terrace Bay) has been declared an Area in Recovery. There is one binational AOC on the St. Marys River at Sault Ste. Marie.

Each Area of Concern has developed a Remedial Action Plan that guides restoration and protection efforts. All Remedial Action Plans must proceed through three stages. Stage One is to determine the severity and underlying causes of environmental degradation that make the location an Area of Concern. An Area could be degraded for a variety of reasons, such as excess nutrients in the water, bacteria or chemical contaminants in the environment, or loss of fish and wildlife habitat. Stage Two is to identify goals and recommend actions that will lead to the restoration and protection of ecosystem health. Stage Three is to implement recommended actions and measure progress of restoration and protection efforts in the Area of Concern to ensure the local goals have been met.

When Stage Three is complete, the Area of Concern is "delisted". Delisting an Area of Concern means that the goals identified in the Remedial Action Plan have been achieved. The decision to delist an Area is made by the federal, provincial, and local RAP participants, with advice from the International Joint Commission. When an Area is delisted, however, it doesn't mean all the work is done. Continued diligence is essential to ensure that the environmental quality is sustained into the future.

With funding support from the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Environment Canada, EcoSuperior provides coordination and liaison with public advisory committees for Peninsula Harbour and Jackfish Bay, as well the coordination of scientific studies in the North Harbour portion of the Thunder Bay AOC.

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