Croque, Newfoundland and Labrador
The Fischot Islands are a series of small islands, isolated rocks, and shoals at the southeast head of Hare Bay, on the northeast side of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. They are 15 km north of Croque and 25 km east of Main Brook. These low, treeless, rocky islands and islets are fully exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean from the east. However, they are large enough that eiders can find shelter during severe storms.
Ice cover plays an important role in eider activity at this site during winter. The ocean in this area can be mostly ice-covered from late December to early May with the southward flowing Labrador Current carrying much northern-formed ice to the Fischot Islands area. However, westerly winds usually keep leads of open water on the lee side of the Great Northern Peninsula (around the Fischot Islands) and this is where large numbers of wintering eiders congregate.
The Fischot Islands have long had a reputation among local hunters for supporting large numbers of Common Eiders during the winter. The only formal survey of eiders in the Fischot Islands area was conducted by the Canadian Wildlife Survey in 1995. They estimated the winter congregation to include about 10,000 Common Eiders, representing as much as 3.5% of the northern (spp. borealis) population (it is likely that a small number of the wintering birds are of the Atlantic dresseri ssp. as well.
From the early to the mid 1990s, there was a Common Eider re-introduction program, nearby in Hare Bay. The success of this program has not been fully evaluated yet and it is not known whether any of the eiders in this IBA are from these re-introduction efforts.
The Common Eider is the largest duck in the Northern Hemisphere. Because of their large size and the accessibility of their nests, these ducks were heavily exploited as a food source, and their populations were subsequently reduced. By the early 1900s, many North America Common Eider colonies were wiped-out. After the implementation of the Migratory Birds Convention Act (1916), eider numbers have rebounded, but it is thought that the extent of their recovery is no where near the historical size of the North American population.
The large wintering congregation of Common Eiders in the Fischot Islands area likely attracts hunters from the nearby communities. However, there is no evidence suggesting that the current harvest negatively effects the population.
Like many other sites along the coast in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Fischot Islands are close to a busy shipping route that links Europe to North America. An oil spill could kill large numbers of eiders.IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status