Canada's only-known live coral reef. Photo: CNW Group/Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region

Canada’s only-known live coral reef. Photo: CNW Group/Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region

The Inertia

Canadian federal authorities have closed Canada’s only-known live coral reef to commercial and recreational bottom-contact fishing. With the action, the Canadian government hopes to protect a unique site with both environmental and cultural significance for the region.

The indefinite ban on all commercial and recreational bottom-contact fishing in the area came into effect on February 14, 2024, as the CBC reports.

The site of the ban is a Lophelia Reef located in the Finlayson Channel of British Columbia’s Central Coast, about 310 miles northwest of Vancouver. The reef was first discovered in 2021 and mapped in 2022. It is both the only-known live coral reef in Canada’s Pacific, as well as the northernmost coral reef in the entire Pacific Ocean.

“The reef is an astonishing finding,” said Cherisse Du Preez, head of the deep-sea ecology program with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “This hidden hotspot is like a tropical coral reef but in the dark.

The ‘environmentally sensitive’ reef is remote and not widely fished, but still shows evidence of physical damage from bottom-contact fishing, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In addition, the site is culturally significant to the Kitasoo Xai’xais and Heiltsuk First Nations.

“Significant marine areas, such as the Lophelia coral reef, not only contribute to the health of our oceans, they are also vital to the fabric of our identity as Canadians,” said Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Diane Lebouthillier. “With the impacts of climate change evident around the world, the work to prevent biodiversity loss and protect marine ecosystems has become urgent. The Government of Canada is committed to working together with Indigenous and local communities, and with all levels of government, to conserve our shared waters and the unique creatures and habitats that exist within them for future generations.”

The coral reef is currently being assessed for a Parks Canada national marine conservation area reserve.


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