Moore and Byers Islands and Banks

Country/territory: Canada

IBA Criteria met: A4i, A4ii, A4iii (2008)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 79,000 ha

Birds Canada / Nature Canada

Site description
The Moore and Byers Islands and Banks area lie along the east side of Hecate Strait midway up the mainland coast of British Columbia, between the north end of Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert. The site is approximately 100 kilometres northwest of the town of Bella Bella. The area includes all the islands, islets and reefs within the two clusters that lie from ten to eighteen kilometres off the west coast of Aristazabel Island. The northern and southern clusters of islands are separated by Wright Passage. Also within the site are the marine waters in a ten-kilometre radius around the island chain; this includes the shallow banks around the islands.

In general, these islands are low and gently undulating with a few steep portions along rocky perimeter areas. The shoreline of the large islands are convoluted and thus have many shallow bays and tidal channels. Many of the islands support forests dominated by Sitka Spruce, while the larger islands have grassy and herbaceous cover.

Key biodiversity
Seven species of seabirds breed in significant numbers on Moore and Byers Island. Of the 12 total islands that support seabirds in the site, the majority of the birds breed on seven islands. Surveys conducted in 1988 reported 30,040 pairs of Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels and 20,505 pairs of Leachs Storm-Petrels. These numbers represent 1% of the global Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel population and about 4% of the eastern Pacific Leachs Storm-Petrel population that is found in Canada. The surveys also recorded a total of 79 pairs of American Black Oystercatchers breeding on all 12 islands within the site. This represents 1.5% of the worlds population.

Three species of alcids nest on the islands in significant numbers. The most abundant of these is the Rhinoceros Auklet, with 91,640 pairs surveyed in 1988 (7% of the total world population). Counts of 22,730 Cassins Auklet pairs were recorded in the same year. The last alcid, Pigeon Guillemot, breeds in nationally significant numbers. In 1988, 604 birds or approximately 6% of the Canadian population were surveyed. Finally, 889 pairs of Glaucous-winged Gull breed here - this is over 3% of the national population.

Other birds recorded at the site include Peregrine Falcon (subspecies pealei, a nationally vulnerable bird), Bald Eagle, Tufted and Horned puffin, Sooty and Short-tailed shearwater, White-winged Scoter, Harlequin Duck, Marbled Murrelet, three species of cormorants, and a variety of shorebirds.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Moore and Byers Islands and Banks. Downloaded from on 06/02/2023.