WE DID IT – THE GLASS SPONGE REEFS IN HOWE SOUND ARE PROTECTED!!
March 6, 2019: Marine Life Sanctuaries Society and the Underwater Council of British Columbia are incredibly pleased and proud to learn that our hard work, dedication and commitment to protect the delicate glass sponge reefs in Howe Sound has come to fruition today.
With the ocean as our backdrop off John Lawson Park, West Vancouver, The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced the establishment of eight marine refuges in Howe Sound to protect nine newly discovered glass sponge reefs, an area encompassing 3.5 km². These are the very reefs that MLSS, under the leadership of Glen Dennison, discovered, mapped and documented, initiating contact with Fisheries and Oceans Canada regarding their ecosystem value and need for protection.
The formal fishery closures are effective April 1, 2019 and include a protective buffer of 150 metres surrounding the reef footprints. All commercial, recreational and First Nations Food, Social and Ceremonial bottom contact fishing activities – prawn and crab by trap, shrimp and groundfish by trawl, and groundfish by hook and line will be prohibited within portions of Subareas 28-2 and 28-4 to protect the nine reefs, as marine refuges. Use of downrigger gear in recreational salmon trolling will also be prohibited via a Condition of Licence and in effect for the 2019 recreational fishing season.
Cooperative and collaborative efforts by all stakeholders now ensures protection of these important habitats that provide refuge and forage grounds for many economically important species.