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

Maritime Museum project receives legacy grant

A special project of the Dixon Entrance Maritime Museum Society has been… Continue reading

Richardson Ranch celebrating 100 years of family and ranching in Haida Gwaii

Tlell Polled Hereford’s continue to win awards while the ranch becomes a popular spot for visitors

Indigenous voices finally heard with final MMIWG report, says Northwest B.C. advocate

The report contains more than 200 recommendations to multiple levels of government

Sustainble economy flourishing in Haida Gwaii and Great Bear Rainforest thanks to First Nations investments

From 2008-2018, funding initiatives led to more than $286 million in new investments

New exhibit at Haida Gwaii Heritage Centre, Kay Llnagaay

Ubiquitous Cocoons: My metamorphosing life by Kathy Pick will be running until Sept. 1, 2019

First ever Nisga’a mortuary totem pole unveiled in Prince Rupert cemetery on Father’s Day weekend

The pole was unveiled at Fairview Cemetery in honour of the late Robert Tait, renowned carver

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Most Read