Canada's Minister MacKay Announces Support to Canada’s Unique Marine Habitat on World Oceans Day

8 June 2013

Source: Fishries and Oceans Canada

PICTOU, Nova Scotia – The Honourable Peter MacKay, Regional Minister for Nova Scotia, on behalf of the Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, announced today that the Harper Government is protecting two areas of the Scotian Shelf by closing them to bottom-contact fishing.  This action protects a rare sponge off Nova Scotia on the eastern Scotian Shelf, Vazella Pourtalesi, from intrusive human activities.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates our government’s commitment to protecting sensitive marine habitat and species,” said Minister MacKay. “I am pleased that this agreement stems from our work with industry and community partners to conserve our important marine habitat while ensuring Canadians can continue to benefit from the opportunities our ocean resources present.”

Vazella Pourtalesi is known to exist in only two other locations worldwide; the Gulf of Mexico and the Azores, where they reside as individuals or within small aggregations. In Canadian waters, however, large densities of the specieshave formed globally-unique sponge grounds, qualifying for protection under Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Policy for Managing the Impacts of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas.

The areas to be closed amount to 259 square kilometres on the eastern Scotian Shelf. Fishing with drags, traps, barrels, bottom-set trawls, longlines and gillnets, and any other type of fishing gear that contacts the sea floor, will be prohibited. Gear that does not come into contact with the sea floor, such as purse seines, and pelagic longlines and gillnets, may still be used.

For more, go to: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/media/npress-communique/2013/hq-ac22-eng.htm