Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound Glass Sponge Reef closures
- Strait of Georgia Bioregion (British Columbia)
- Approximate Size (km2) contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
- 29 km2
- Approximate % coverage contribution to Marine Conservation Targets
- Conservation Objective
- Protect glass sponge reefs
Ecological Components of Interest
The following ecological components of interest are conserved through the prohibitions.
Species of regional importance: glass sponge reefs
- Why it is important: Glass sponge reefs are presently found only to exist along the west coast of Canada and the United States. Reef-forming sponges are fragile, with skeletons made of silica, or glass.
Habitat that is important to biodiversity conservation: glass sponge reefs
- Why it is important: These structure-forming species provide habitat for many finfish and shellfish species.
All bottom contact commercial, recreational, and Food, Social, and Ceremonial fishing activities.
No other human activities that take place in this area are incompatible with the conservation of the ecological components of interest.
Sponge-dominated communities modify bottom currents and create habitat. Glass sponge reefs provide a link between benthic (bottom layer) and pelagic (upper layer) environments, play an important role in carbon and nitrogen processing, and act as a silica sink. Sponge reefs provide refuge, habitat, and nursery grounds for aquatic species.
Prohibition on bottom-contact gear can protect numerous species of fish and invertebrates that use the benthic area. In addition to protecting the fragile glass sponge reef structure directly, these closures also protect the services (i.e. refuge, habitat, food, nursery areas) that the reefs provide to many aquatic species including rockfish, sea stars, crabs, prawns and many benthic invertebrates.
Although a detailed understanding of the interactions between the sponge reef and the surrounding ecosystem is not well known, it is suspected that reefs hosting diverse and abundant aquatic species can, in turn, enhance species abundances and ecosystem functions of the areas beyond the glass sponge reef boundaries.
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