Glass sponges live deep in the water. They are filter-feeders that build intricate skeletons made out of silica (glass). (Fisheries and Oceans Canada))

Charity applauds glass sponge reef protection

The Canadian government will create new marine refuges off the western coast that will protect some ancient and fragile glass sponge reefs. The charity, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), “is very pleased” that this “ecological treasure” not far from Vancouver will be protected from all bottom-contact fishing. CPAWS and other groups have worked hard to study and secure protection of the reefs.

Reefs ‘are living dinosaurs’

“Living glass sponge reefs date back to the Jurassic era and are living dinosaurs on our Pacific Coast,” said Sabine Jessen, national director of the ocean program for CPAWS in a statement. “We have a global responsibility to ensure their long-term survival.”

The skeletons of these sponges are made mostly of glass and each is covered by a single-cell membrane.(Neil McDaniel)

Anchoring still of concern

The protection measures in will include a 150-metre buffer zone to prevent bottom trawling from destroying the reefs and smothering them with sediment. They will also prohibit bottom contact fishing like prawn and crab trapping and trolling for salmon in the refuge areas which total 3.5 square kilometres.

CPAWS is still concerned though that anchoring is not part of the protection plan.

There will be eight new marine refuges in Howe Sound, about 30 km northwest of Vancouver.

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