Science Advisory Report 2010/041
Occurrence, susceptibility to fishing, and ecological function of corals, sponges, and hydrothermal vents in Canadian waters
- A national science advisory process was held to review the available information and provide science advice, concerning the occurrence, sensitivity to fishing, and ecological function of corals, sponges, and hydrothermal vents in the Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
- There are a variety of methodologies and sampling techniques available that can be used to determine the occurrence of corals, sponges, and hydrothermal vents. In the Canadian EEZ, hydrothermal vents are found exclusively in the Pacific; however corals and sponges are known to occur throughout Canadian waters.
- Hydrothermal vents are an ecologically important deep-ocean energy source that support communities of specialised bacteria which provide a trophic basis for communities of higher organisms (e.g. mussels, worms, snails, crabs, anemones, fish, octopus, etc.), many of which are endemic to these benthic features.
- Corals and sponges form complex, three-dimensional biogenic structures that directly and indirectly influence the occurrence and abundance of many fish and invertebrate species.
- Corals, sponges, and hydrothermal vents are sensitive and susceptible to anthropogenic activities, including direct (e.g. removal or damage) and indirect (e.g. smothering by sedimentation) fishing impacts. nsider when managing benthic attributes were discussed; however as consensus could not be reached, science advice is not provided on this topic.
- A suite of ecological indicators were reviewed (i.e. uniqueness, rarity, species density, species richness, species distribution, and species diversity) and their strengths and weaknesses discussed. Three methodologies (i.e. cumulative distribution, area of aggregation, and species distribution models) were considered appropriate predictors of several ecological indicators.
- Elements to consider when developing an encounter protocol were briefly discussed and will be revisited in detail at a future science-advisory process.
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