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Canada bans certain products ;tries to save Pacific corals

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Corals play an essential role in marine ecosystems.

Radio-Canada

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Fisheries and Oceans Canada prohibits access to a living coral reef for all commercial and recreational bottom fishing for an indefinite period. Lophelia Reef, discovered in 2021, is the only living coral reef in the Canadian Pacific and the northernmost in the entire Pacific Ocean.

Canadian authorities say the ban came into effect on February 14 for this reef located in the Finlayson Channel of British Columbia's central coast, about 500 kilometers northwest of Vancouver and 200 kilometers directly east. #x27;eastern Haida Gwaii.

Even though the area is isolated and little exploited, there is evidence of deterioration on the coral, likely due to bottom fishing, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The federal institution says the closure is necessary to protect this unique site in the world, which is both environmentally sensitive and culturally important to the Kitasoo Xai'xais and Heiltsuk First Nations.

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In 2023, Ottawa has committed to creating a marine protected area off Vancouver Island to help protect the ocean floor.

Lophelia Reef is also being evaluated to become a Parks Canada National Marine Conservation Area.

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Protecting the unique habitat of Lophelia Reef and all the life it supports aligns well with our nation's worldview and laws, said Chief Advisor-elect Marilyn Slett of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, in a written statement.

Everything is connected and everything has the right to live in a healthy environment that supports healthy ecosystems and healthy populations, free from unintended intrusion by destructive fishing practices.

A quote from Marilyn Slett, elected Chief Councilor of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council

Cherisse Du Preez, manager of the deep water ecology program at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, called the reef an astonishing discovery, describing it as a reef of tropical coral in the dark.

Hidden within the reef are crabs, octopuses and schools of fish, and it is potentially the only place in the world where coral reefs and glass sponge reefs coexist, she adds. /p>

Its discovery and mapping are the result of a collaboration between Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nation and the Central Coast Aboriginal Resource Alliance (CCIRA).

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Cold water corals, like those found off the coast of British Columbia, are equally threatened by global warming than their tropical counterparts.

Wherever these corals live, they help build habitats that provide nurseries, refuges and feeding grounds for other marine wildlife, and help improve biological diversity and abundance local authorities, CCIRA said in a 2021 online statement. A species of tropical coral reefs, Lophelia Reef leaves hard calcium carbonate skeletons for the next generation to grow on.

A quote from Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA)

Lophelia Reef may join wolffish, spirit bears, sea lions and herring among the ocean wonders of British Columbia's north and central coasts, adds Cherisse Du Preez

With information from The Canadian Press

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