ID: White tube-like sponges underwater

Thank Fisheries and Oceans Canada for protecting all of Átl'ka7tsem/Howe Sound’s glass sponge reefs!

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has announced five new protections for glass sponge reefs in Átl'ka7tsem/Howe Sound. These fishing closures prohibit bottom contact fishing such as trawling and prawn trapping from destroying these rare and ancient ecosystems. 

These protections are great news, but there’s a catch. Fishing closure designations do not ensure permanent protection like marine protected areas (MPAs) do, as they can be easily revoked. The 300 prawn traps found in a glass sponge reef fishing closure near Sechelt last year also indicate the need for stronger monitoring and enforcement in these protected areas.

Will you thank the DFO  minister for protecting all of Átl'ka7tsem/Howe Sound’s glass sponge reefs? 

Click inside the text box below to edit your letter. When you're ready, scroll down to add your name to sign-off the letter using the form provided. Press “Send my letter”! Your letter will be sent to Fisheries and Oceans Minster Minister Joyce Murray and DFO Regional Director General, Pacific Region Rebecca Reid.

A Quick Dive into BC's Glass Sponge Reefs in Átl'ka7tsem (pronounced At-KAT-sum) aka Howe Sound:

  • 1987:40 million years ago glass sponge reefs disappeared from the fossil record and were thought to be extinct. But in 1987, a team of Canadian scientists mapping the seafloor found living glass sponge reefs 200 meters below the ocean surface of Hecate Strait. Over the years more sponges have been found. 
  • 2001: CPAWS-BC partners with local advocates for the protection of Howe Sound glass sponge reefs.
  • 2015: CPAWS-BC nominates the glass sponge reefs for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
  • 2017: The Government of Canada establishes the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to safeguard these fragile features from harmful human activities.
  • 2016: DFO implements nine marine refuges prohibiting bottom contact fishing, protecting glass sponge reefs in the Strait of Georgia (seven) and Átl'ka7tsem/Howe Sound (two).
  • 2019: DFO implements a further eight marine refuges prohibiting bottom contact fishing, protecting glass sponge reefs in Átl'ka7tsem/Howe Sound.
  • 2020: DFO and Marine Life Sanctuaries Society confirm the locations of five more living glass sponge reefs.
  • 2021: Átl'ka7tsem/Howe Sound is named a UNESCO Biosphere Region.
  • 2022: Five additional fishing closures designated for reefs confirmed living in 2020. All living glass sponge reefs are now protected in Átl'ka7tsem/Howe Sound.
Dept. of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard