Important Cetacean Areas are discrete sites that fulfill one or more of the following criteria. For ICA purposes habitual use is defined as used by cetaceans for a minimum of 3 years. A site may qualify if it supports:
1. Endangered, Threatened or Vulnerable Species*
In general, the habitual presence of a ‘listed’ species, irrespective of population size, may be sufficient for a site to qualify as an ICA. This could be applied to species, subspecies or populations.
* As categorized by: 1) the IUCN Red List, 2) any national designation as Endangered, Threatened, or of Special Concern (eg. Endangered Species Act – US, Species at Risk Act and COSEWIC – Canada), or 3) studies that indicate a basis for special management.
2. Feeding Concentrations
A site habitually used by 10 or more large cetaceans, or 100 or more small cetaceans or, regardless of number of animals a site habitually used by specific individuals that may be vulnerable due to its proximity to a large population center or industry.
3. Breeding Area or Nursery
A site habitually used by cetaceans for breeding, calving or a nursery.
4. Migration Corridors
A traditional route between feeding and breeding locations, or between separate feeding grounds
5. Species Diversity
A site with a small or large number of individuals, but that habitually supports a representation of the species diversity of a biogeographic region.