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Quebec Bulletin
February-March 2017/Volume 20/Number 1

Consultation for Implementing Conservation Measures for Corals and Sponges

The Pennatula grandis, a sea pen species present in the deep waters (>200 m) of the Laurentian Channel
The Pennatula grandis, a sea pen species present in the deep waters (>200 m) of the Laurentian Channel

Concerned about facilitating the conservation and protection of corals and sponges, Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently engaged in consultations with Aboriginal communities and some fishers' organizations in eastern Canada. The target objective is to identify areas to protect while reducing to a minimum the economic impact of future conservation measures on fisheries.

Corals and sponges play an important role in maintaining the health of the ecosystems they inhabit. They provide a place for many marine species, including commercially important species, to reproduce, feed and seek shelter. However, their slow growth and low mobility make them vulnerable.

In June 2015, the Department published the Coral & Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada. The goal of this strategy is to facilitate the conservation and protection of cold water coral and sponge species and communities, including those in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

To implement this strategy, in March 2016, Fisheries and Oceans Canada identified important coral and sponge areas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. A consultation on these areas began in December 2016 with Aboriginal communities and fishers' organizations that use bottom-contacting fishing gear in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Department is seeking their feedback to target areas that need protection while minimizing the economic impact on their fisheries. The information gathered during these consultations, combined with economic and ecological data, will enable the Department to make informed decisions on conservation measures for some of these important coral and sponge areas.

By the end of this year, conservation measures will be announced in certain designated areas to protect corals and sponges. These measures will contribute to Canada's commitments by:

  • increasing the proportion of marine and coastal protected areas to 5% between now and 2017 and to 10% by 2020;
  • protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems under the United Nations Resolution on Sustainable Fisheries.

For more information, please contact project coordinator Maité Chavez of the Fisheries Management Regional Branch by email at or by phone at 418-648-5883.

Charline Le Mer and Paule de Margerie
Ecosystems Management

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