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Coral & Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada 2015

Coral & Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada 2015

Coral & Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada 2015 (PDF, 3.30 MB)

Table of Contents

Why Protect Corals and Sponges?

Cold water corals and sponges are a biologically diverse group of species which can occupy a variety of substrate types, current speeds, and depth ranges. Either as individuals or in groups, these species may form structural habitats that provide an important functional role for numerous forms of marine life (Hogg et al. 2010). They act as nurseries, refugia, and spawning and breeding grounds for many aquatic species (DFO 2010b; Baillon et al. 2012; Baker et al. 2012a; Baker et al. 2012b).

Due to their sessile, long-lived nature, corals and sponges are particularly vulnerable to physical damage, sediment smothering, toxicity, and potential climate change effects. Examples of human activity that may pose a threat include bottom contact fishing, submarine cable installation, and oil and gas exploration and development. In implementing the Strategy it is important to note that vulnerability of corals and sponges varies by species and some human activities cause greater impacts than others (DFO 2006b; DFO 2010c). From a broader ecosystem perspective there is still much to learn about the role of corals and sponges as they relate to biodiversity and ecosystem management, making conservation and research objectives key components of coral and sponge management.

With increasing interest in third-party certification of sustainable fisheries, conservation and protection of corals and sponges is also an important market factor for eastern Canada fisheries. Several fisheries within the geographic scope of the Strategy have or are currently undergoing certification under such programs as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC 2010) or assessed through eco-guides such as SeaChoice or the Monterey Bay Aquarium. One of the criterion evaluated during the assessment process for sustainable fisheries is the environmental impact of the fishery and its associated management tool. The Strategy will help support and clarify processes being used in relation to coral and sponges.

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