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VANCOUVER — Today's announcement by Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Minister Dominic LeBlanc to protect rare, delicate glass sponge reefs in B.C.'s Hecate Strait is a strong step toward meeting international biodiversity commitments and ensuring the ecosystems that underpin fisheries are better managed for decades to come.

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"The sponge reefs that cover roughly the same area as the Lower Mainland are globally unique, and their contribution to overall ocean health and fisheries is only beginning to be understood," said Foundation senior research scientist Scott Wallace. "This marine protected area not only safeguards the sponge reefs but also fisheries that are inextricably linked to a healthy ecosystem."

Glass sponge reefs were thought to have been extinct for 60 million years until scientists discovered them in the 1980s in B.C.'s coastal waters. The extremely fragile animals use silica dissolved in seawater to manufacture skeletons.

"The minister's announcement signals to other countries that this unique marine reef is something Canadians value as a precious part of our natural heritage," Wallace said.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Wallace, Senior Research Scientist
Cell: 778-558-3984

Theresa Beer, Senior Communications Specialist
Cell: 778-874-3396

February 16, 2017
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2017/02/hecate-strait-marine-protection-good-for-environment-and-fisheries/