Draft regulations too weak to save glass sponge reefs

  • Jul. 17, 2015 4:00 p.m.

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverAn environmental group says regulations set up by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to govern a proposed Marine Protected Area (MPA) over glass sponge reefs in the Hecate Strait are too weak to be effective. The extremely fragile reef is the only of its kind in the world and is thought to be nearly 9,000 years old. The protection of this area directly coincides with a Government of Canada initiative to strengthen marine and coastal conservation, as outlined under the National Conservation Plan. Launched in 2014, the plan included dedicated funding of $37 million over five years for marine coastal conservation. In a press release Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea said the Ottawa’s new step towards the designation of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs as a Marine Protected Area is evidence of the Conservative government’s “commitment to protect the unique features of our oceans for future generations.” However, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) says that draft regulations released June 26 will not do enough to save reefs. “The permitted activities under the draft regulations present an unacceptable risk. The proposed MPA covers a small area, and the sponge reefs are globally unique, very fragile and extremely important. A huge proportion of the ocean will still remain open for fishing if this MPA is completely closed,” says Sabine Jessen, CPAWS’ ocean program director. CPAWS has been working for over 15 years to get the reefs protected and is recommending that bottom trolling or other types of fishing should not be allowed within 200 metres of the reef because the risk of raising sediment could choke the sponges to death. “If we want a healthy fishing industry in our province, we need to take precautionary measures to protect important sea nurseries such as the glass sponge reef,” Ms. Jessen said in a press release.  Sponge reefs were thought to be extinct until their discovery in the late 1980’s. The Geological Survey of Canada discovered four major reef complexes of glass sponge reefs in Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte sound. The reefs serve as a modern link to reefs that were common during the Jurassic era. Reefs the size of the ones found in Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound have not been found elsewhere in the world, which environmental groups feel is evidence of their global importance for protection.

Just Posted

Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Police say a sexual assault at an all-boys Catholic institution was not reported to them

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Port post office delivers a thank-you to first responders

Commemerative stamps honour firefighters, police, SAR teams, paramedics, and armed forces

In Pictures: Expression Sessions hangs ten

Wave gods smile on the 10th edition of the Haida Gwaii surf festival

VIDEO: People with diabetes meet their alert dogs

A diabetic alert dog is trained to detect low blood sugar in people who have Type 1 diabetes

China says butt out; Canada calls for release of “arbitrarily” detained Muslims

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Canada’s envoy of going beyond their diplomatic roles

Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist’s skin removed and preserved

The skin was removed in honour of the well known artist’s work

Province not doing enough for forestry sector, say Liberals

Although Minister of Forests says government working to diversify industry, rural economies

B.C. Realtor suspended after helping intern forge note about sick grandma

Vancouver real estate agent Jaideep Singh Puri has to pay fine, take ethics course

Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding sparks outrage

Post taken down after Conservative MP in neighbouring riding condemns it and demands removal

Judge rules against ALC on rural B.C. subdivision

The ALC can’t change the definition of an acre, the judge ruled.

John Horgan shrugs off low turnout, change to referendum option

‘No’ proportional representation group says voting should be extended

Two more government pot shops to open in Kamloops

Two private applications are also in the queue to come before city council by the end of the year

Most Read