The Gully

Code of Practice for the Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA) – ExxonMobil Canada Properties (EMCP) 


EMCP has developed, as part of its environmental protection planning, this Code of Practice to protect the uniqueness and integrity of the Gully MPA in particular species-at-risk. This Code is not a regulatory requirement and is indicative of EMCP’s environmental stewardship philosophy and corporate policies. The intent of the Code of Practice is to provide clarity to all personnel working on EMCP–related projects/activities that may interact with the Gully MPA.

Ecological Importance

The Gully is a large submarine canyon approximately 40 km east of Sable Island on the edge of the Scotian Shelf.  The Gully has been recognized as an area of extremely high productivity and critically important marine mammal habitat.  Fifteen species of whales and dolphins have been identified in the area and eight are commonly found there.  Within the Gully, a dozen species of corals have been identified, the highest known diversity of corals in Atlantic Canada.  Most notably, the Gully supports a small resident population of endangered Northern Bottlenose whales.

The Gully 2

Regulatory Context

On May 14, 2004 the minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced the official designation of the Gully MPA under the Oceans Act.  Over 65 km long and 16 km wide and 2500 m at its deepest point, the Gully is one of the most prominent undersea features on the east coast of Canada. The MPA contains three management zones, each providing varying levels of protection based on conservation objectives and ecological sensitivities.


This Code of Practice addresses the following:

  • Vessel routing in the vicinity of the Island;
  • Aircraft flights near and over Sable Island;
  • Project activities on the Island; and,
  • Environmental awareness training

The Gully 3


  • Unless the Master of an EMCP-related vessel deems it necessary for the safe and prudent operation of their vessel, no project-generated vessel traffic is permitted to enter the Gully MPA.
  • Aircraft in transit to and from any EMCP-related production platforms, vessels or drilling units are restricted from flying over the Gully MPA.
  • EMCP-related activities in the general vicinity of the Gully MPA will be undertaken in a manner consistent with sound environmental practices, minimizing any adverse impact on the environment and in accordance with all applicable guidelines.
  • EMCP will include discussion of this Code of Practice in its environmental awareness training program for its staff and contractors.
  • EMCP intends that this Code is a ‘living document’ and as such, will review and update it as required.


Photos and information on Gully MPA sourced on DFO website at: