Browns Bank

Overview
Brown’s Bank is a shoal on the southwestern edge of the Eastern Coastal Shelf. It is closed to lobster fishing; the closure serves both as a buffer between the inshore and offshore lobster fisheries and as a source of larval supply for inshore stocks.1 The bank is also an important scallop fishing area. 2

Surface area
1,140 mi2(2952.59 km2)

Depth
∼50 – ∼100 m

Bathymetry including key features
The surface of Browns Bank is comprised of two flat plateaus.3

Substrate
Brown’s Bank is a shoal comprised of sand and gravel.4 Sand deposits of various thicknesses overlie gravel deposits which are remnants of glacial till. The sand deposits are characterized by a range of sand wave forms. A thin layer of finer grained sediments occurs on the deeper, eastern portion of the bank.5

Relationship to large-scale circulatory patterns of the Gulf of Maine
A mixture of St. Lawrence River water and the Labrador Current flows southwesterly along the Scotian Shelf. This relatively fresh, cold water flows across Brown’s Bank as it flows around the western end of Nova Scotia and enters the Gulf of Maine. The topography of the bank directs some of the current in a clockwise gyre around the bank.6,7

Information on average (seasonal/annual) oceanographic conditions
Due to the shallow nature of the coastal shelf, the water column in this area is well mixed by tidal action. A clockwise gyre is a permanent feature of the bank’s oceanography.8 The coastal shelf is separated from the stratified interior of the Gulf by a tidal front.9

Whale abundance, distribution and migratory patterns
Browns Bank, along with other areas in the eastern Gulf, is used by right whales as a breeding area in the fall.

Closed or protected areas
Brown’s Bank is closed by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans to lobster fishing.

1 Maine Fishermen’s Forum, 2003
2 Nova Scotia Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries and Aquaculture
3 Kostylev, et al., 2001
4 Dorsey and Pederson, 1998
5 Kostylev, et al., 2001
6 Xue, et al., 2000
7 Pettigrew, et al., 2005
8 Nova Scotia Museaum of Natural History, Undateda
9 Xue, et al., 2000