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Howe Sound’s Glass Sponge Reefs have existed in Howe Sound for 12,000 years,  the same time as the first peoples known to live in this region – what a remarkable discovery.   Most remarkable is the ecological value and importance of the reefs to the health of the Sound.  Quoting from conclusions of Fisheries and Oceans Canada report “Science Response: Howe Sound sponge aggregations –location, status, and significance”:

“Combined, available evidence for nine glass sponge aggregations in Howe Sound, Dorman Point, Lions Bay, Kelvin Grove, Brunswick Point, Halkett Point, East Defence Islands, Anvil Island, Lost Reef, and Bowyer Island – indicates that each site represents live glass sponge reefs with important ecological functions. These reefs have a high frequency of occurrence of live sponge habitat, support diverse and abundant communities of invertebrates and fish, and play important roles in water processing and nutrient dynamics in Howe Sound. Extremely sensitive to physical disturbances, these reefs receive little to no protection from existing spatial management measures. Protection of these glass sponge reefs can be improved through the use of management tools including prohibition of bottom-contact fishing and other human activities resulting in bottom contact.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) implemented voluntary closures of the reefs in 2017, stakeholder consultations regarding permanent closure to bottom fishing are underway.

This opportunity for protection is a major step forward to the ongoing recovery of Howe Sound’s marine environment.  The Sound will continue to be a source of food only if we protect the key habitats that enable the fish to thrive.  Education and awareness, protection and enforcement are key to keeping Howe Sound’s sponge reefs intact.  Howe Sound’s reefs are pristine and accessible for ongoing research which sets them apart from the Glass Sponge reefs in other parts of the BC Coast.   

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