Conservationists applaud increased protections of SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount MPS

Vancouver, BC – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) congratulates the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada for agreeing to increase the protection of SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area (MPA) by closing the area to all bottom-contact fishing. SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount is home to rare and fragile glass sponges and corals, which support a huge diversity of life.

“Recent surveys of the seamount have found two new species of glass sponge and the first known records of two other species of glass sponge in Pacific Canada” said Sabine Jessen, CPAWS National Ocean Program Director, “The surveys also showed that bottom contact fisheries were damaging this fragile ecosystem. Closing the area to bottom contact fishing will provide much needed protection and make SGaan Kinghlass – Bowie Seamount one of Canada’s better protected MPAs,” added Jessen.

SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area is found 180km of the west coast of Haida Gwaii. The seamount begins 3000m below the surface and, through volcanic activity, has risen to just 24m below the surface, making SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie seamount one of the shallowest in the north Pacific.

“Seamounts are rare, vulnerable, and high-value ecosystems that are home to a staggering diversity of species. The abundance of life found on seamounts attracts larger marine life, like tuna, sharks, whales, and seabirds,” said Jessen. “This entire ecosystem will benefit from the increased protection measures,” added Jessen.

“CPAWS is pleased to see the level of science and research conducted at SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount. We’re particularly delighted that the results of this work have been used to improve management measures for the MPA,” said Jessen. “But a wealth of scientific evidence should not have been necessary to prompt this decision. Bottom-contact fishing never belonged in SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount MPA, as the Council of the Haida Nation have long argued,” added Jessen.

In their announcement of the improved protection measures, the Council of the Haida Nation note that prohibiting bottom-contact fisheries within an MPA that is designed to protect sensitive ecosystems consistent with the precautionary approach and legally required under the sustainable fisheries framework and the recently amended Oceans Act.

“There have been a lot of positive steps on Canada’s MPAs over the past year. CPAWS is eager to see further protection measures that will ensure the health of our ocean for future generations” said Jessen.