BC Fishermen Committed to Protecting Hecate Strait Glass Sponge Reefs

VANCOUVER, Feb. 15, 2017 /CNW/ - "BC fishermen were among the first to call for and act on protecting the Hecate Strait Glass Sponge Reefs," said Christina Burridge, Executive Director, BC Seafood Alliance, "so we support their formal designation as an MPA under the Oceans Act."  In 2000, she explained, the groundfish trawl fishery implemented voluntary closures and worked proactively with DFO to establish legislated closures that were implemented July 19, 2002.  Members of the Alliance, she added, more recently participated in more than six years of multi-stakeholder consultations to protect the reefs as an MPA.  "We are always committed to conservation and good management."

BC fishermen also believe they are well-placed to help achieve Canada's commitment to protect five per cent of Canada's coast by the end of 2017 and ten percent by 2020.  According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Burridge noted, BC already protects 3.2% of our coast.  "BC is way ahead," she explained, "our marine waters are just 7.9% of Canada's so, according to ECCC, we currently contribute 28.3% of all marine areas currently protected in Canada"

"Fishermen understand instinctively that a healthy ocean is essential for healthy, sustainable fisheries.  Practical protection brings benefits to families and communities up and down the coast and provides food for our country and the world," Burridge said, adding that current science suggests that well managed fisheries contribute more to biodiversity than the large scale no take zones used in jurisdictions with less effective regulation and management.  Other studies show that seafood harvesting contributes far less greenhouse gas emissions than the provision of most other forms of animal protein.

"BC is fortunate," Burridge concluded, "it has well-managed, sustainable seafood and areas of marine protection supporting healthy resources and ecosystems in our part of the Pacific Ocean."

The BC Seafood Alliance is an umbrella organization whose 17 members represent about 90% of wild harvested seafood from Canada's West Coast, worth about $850 million annually. 

SOURCE BC Seafood Alliance

For further information: Christina Burridge, 604.377.9213; cburridge@telus.net

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