The Centre of Expertise (CoE) in Cold-water Corals and Sponge Reefs, established in 2008, is located at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The CoE coordinates the Government of Canada's approach to cold-water coral and sponge conservation. In addition, the centre:
- provides strategic advice to senior management
- supports regional, national, and international efforts for coral and sponge conservation
- develops tools and approaches to improve coral and sponge conservation in Canada
As a part of its mandate the CoE has developed a communications approach which includes the creation of products used to promote awareness of coral and sponge conservation in Canada. One example of this is our DVD entitled, Diving into the Deep: Coral and Sponge Conservation in Canada. This DVD is targeted toward the fishing industry.
Cold-water Corals and Sponges
In Canada, corals and sponges are found in the Pacific, eastern Arctic, and Atlantic Oceans. Coral and sponge provide complex three dimensional habitat which is important for a variety of deep sea species.
Slow growth rates, longevity, and habitat-limiting factors make corals and sponges particularly vulnerable to physical impacts both directly and indirectly. Corals and sponges can be adversely affected by a broad range of impacts, many of which are associated with human activities including fishing (e.g. bottom impact fishing), oil and gas exploration and development, and submarine cable and pipeline installation. Ocean acidification, as a result of climate change, is also impacting these species.
The responsibilities of countries to implement conservation measures for cold-water coral and sponges are defined in international conventions and agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and United Nations General Assembly Resolution (UNGA) 61/105.
For more information on the conservation of corals and sponges in Canada, please consult the Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy.
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