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Protection of glass sponge reefs stalled

By Toby Gorman
Nanaimo News Bulletin - February 09, 2008

Huge mounds of glass sponge reefs were thought to have disappeared in the Jurassic era almost 75 million years ago. But in the early 1990s, Canadian scientists rediscovered the hauntingly beautiful underwater creations off the coast of B.C., the only known place for them to exist.

They were found in a 1,000-square-kilometre section of the Pacific Ocean – from Hecate Strait to northern Washington State, including the deep water off the shores of Gabriola, Galiano and Malcolm islands.

But fishing trawlers may be dooming glass sponge reefs again.

Many sections have been found demolished by the sweeping nature of trawling nets. In some cases, kilometres at a time have been reduced to rubble.

Some scientists guess as much as half the reefs have been destroyed.

“We’ve been trying to get them to a permanent protected status but so far our efforts have stalled,” said Sabine Jessen, national manager for Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “We were originally hoping to have that in place by the beginning of the 2009 fishing season but that looks doubtful now.”

Read the full article in the Nanaimo News Bulletin