HAIDA GWAII, BC, Jan. 19, 2018 /CNW/ - The Haida Nation and the Government of Canada have agreed to increase the level of protection at the SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area (MPA) by closing all bottom-contact fishing. This closure shows a precautionary management approach to protection of sensitive benthic habitats in support of the MPA objectives.
This decision by the Haida Nation and Canada also aligns with the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) recent decision to close bottom contact fishing on all seamounts in the Offshore Pacific Area of Interest (AOI) and manage impacts to coral and sponges in the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Marine Protected Areas.
Longer-term measures to manage benthic impacts from fishing activities in the MPA will be identified in the developing SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount MPA Management Plan.
- The SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount is located 180 km offshore of Haida Gwaii and is one of the shallowest seamounts in the north Pacific, rising from a depth of 3,000 metres to within 24 metres of the ocean's surface. The seamount is an underwater mountain formed by volcanic activity that results in unique oceanographic interactions which enhance the biological productivity of the area.
- Recent research at the seamount has resulted in the discovery of four rare benthic species, including three new species of glass sponge.
- The SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount and the surrounding area have been designated by both the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) and DFO as a protected area. In 1997, the CHN designated SGaan Kinghlas or Supernatural Being Looking Outwards as a Haida marine protected area. In 1998 DFO identified Bowie Seamount as an AOI and the area was designated as a MPA under Canada's Oceans Act in 2008.
- The purpose of the MPA is to conserve and protect the unique biodiversity and biological productivity of the area's marine ecosystem, which includes the SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie, Hodgkins and Davidson seamounts and the surrounding waters, seabed and subsoil.
- A Management Board for the SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount MPA was established through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in April 2007 between the Government of Canada and the CHN. The MOU confirms the commitment to facilitate the cooperative management and planning of the MPA and demonstrates the shared goal of DFO and the CHN to protect and conserve SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount for present and future generations.
- In 2011, the Management Board established the SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount Advisory Committee to collaboratively provide advice regarding planning and management of the MPA. The Advisory Committee includes representation from commercial and recreational fishing, conservation, academic, and other marine sectors.
"One of the tenets of Haida culture is to treat all things with respect or yahguudang. SGang Kinghlas Supernatural Being Looking Outward is a living being, rich with aquatic life and deep-sea habitat. The new species of coral recently discovered there bear testament to what we don't know about the natural world. Taking precaution and managing human behavior around things like the seamount will do us and the natural world well in the long run. Coral and sponges play a significant role in maintaining the health of oceans and because of their slow growth, they are extremely vulnerable to human activities such as fishing. Today we are pleased to announce with Canada these new measures, which contribute significantly to protecting this biologically important area."
kil tlaats 'gaa, Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation
"Our Government is committed to strengthening conservation measures in our oceans, and we are proud to work closely with the Council of the Haida Nation to collaboratively manage this unique area and ensure the protection of sensitive seafloor habitats. The closure of bottom contact fishing in the SGaan Kinghlas – Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area is an important new measure that will help protect this crucial marine ecosystem for generations to come."
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
For further information: Simon Davies, Manager, Communications, Council of the Haida Nation, 250.559.4468 or 250.637.1130, [email protected]; Athina Vazeos, Communications Advisor, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 604-666-7120 or 604-499-5808, [email protected]