Glass sponge reefs in danger of shattering

The ‘Sea of Glass’ could soon shatter permanently if areas off Prince Rupert’s Pacific coast are not properly protected

Glass Sponge Reefs are in danger of becoming extinct due to their fragility and lack of regulations protecting them from fisherman trawling practices.

The ‘Sea of Glass’ could soon shatter permanently if areas off Prince Rupert’s Pacific coast are not properly protected, Alexandra Barron, marine conservation coordinator at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) said.

“[The Hecate Strait glass sponge reefs] have only been found in B.C., they are not found anywhere else in the world. It took a while for scientists to realize how significant this discovery really was but we’ve been working since 2001 to protect them,” Barron said.

Glass Sponge Reefs, also known as the ‘Sea of Glass’, are found in water depths ranging from 140 to 240 metres and have been discovered off the west coast between Haida Gwaii and the mainland of British Columbia. These fragile reefs are an important habitat for a number of deep-sea species such as rock fish, prawns, octopus and sharks to name a few. They also work to clean the ocean filtering the equivalent of one Olympics-sized swimming pool every 40-70 seconds removing 90 per cent of the bacteria.

“They feel like dried meringue so they are fragile and smash apart easily. Even a net in the water not meant to reach the sea bed … can still sometimes [damage them],” Barron said.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have now designated a Marine Protected Area (MPA) under the Oceans Act to conserve and protect these globally unique reefs.  The draft Hecate Strait MPA regulations were posted June 27 to the Canada Gazette giving Canadians 30 days (until July 27) to influence the protection of the prehistoric species.

While CPAWS is pleased about the MPA, they are disappointed that regulations will still allow fishing activities around and above the reefs including bottom trawl, mid-water trawl and prawn and crab trap fisheries.

The 9,000-year-old reefs were thought to have been extinct for more than 40 million years until they were discovered in 1987.

Scientists estimate about 50 per cent of the reef has already been destroyed due to bottom trawling. As filter feeders, the reefs are also at risk of being smothered by sediments when the ocean floor is stirred up by fishing, Barron said.

“We are asking people to let Fisheries of Canada know we need the MPS to be put in place and for it to happen quickly. We need to make sure the regulations are strong so that they protect the reefs from all threats and at the moment they just don’t do that.”

 

Just Posted

Bachrach nominated by NDP for federal election

The Smithers mayor won on the first ballot with 446 of 797 votes

Bridgeview Marine builds fishing fleet for Queen Charlotte Lodge

Since October, the Prince Rupert-based company has been working on nine vessels for the lodge

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Service honours Marlene Swift’s life and work with North Coast Victims Services

RCMP, Prince Rupert residents attend a ceremony for Swift from inside the Salvation Army on May 23

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read