Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

June 26, 2015 15:14 ET

Harper Government Takes Measures to Protect Exceptionally Rare Sponge Reefs

Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs One Step Closer to Becoming a Marine Protected Area

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 26, 2015) - The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today announced that the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs have reached a new step toward their designation as a Marine Protected Area.

The proposed Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas Regulations have been pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period, ending on July 26, 2015.

These glass sponge reefs are unique as they are the only living examples of the large sponge reefs that have existed since the Jurassic Period. Some of the reefs today date back over 9,000 years. Today the sponge reefs provide refuge, habitat, and nursery grounds for many aquatic species.

The protection of this area directly coincides with the Government of Canada's priority to strengthen marine and coastal conservation, as demonstrated under the National Conservation Plan. The National Conservation Plan, launched in 2014 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, included dedicated funding of $37 million over five years for marine and coastal conservation.

Quick Facts

  • In 1987, four major glass sponge reefs were discovered in the Hecate Strait. They were determined to be over 9,000 years old covering an area of approximately 1,000 square kilometres.
  • The reefs are very large, measuring up to 25 metres in height, and are located at depths of 140-240 meters below the surface.
  • Large reef developments are exceptionally rare and reefs this size have not been found elsewhere in the world.

Quote

"Canadians are fortunate to be surrounded by three biologically-diverse oceans that are an essential part of our culture, traditions and economy. This new step toward the designation of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs as a Marine Protected Area is just another example of our Government's commitment to protect the unique features of our oceans for future generations."

The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Associated Links

Ministerial Statement - World Oceans Day

Minister Shea Announces Funding for Science Facilities, Marine Protection and Salmon Research on the Pacific Coast

Learn about Canada's Diverse and Unique Marine Protected Areas

Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada

Canada Gazette, Part I

Internet: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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Contact Information

  • Frank Stanek
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    613-990-7537

    Sophie Doucet
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    613-992-3474