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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

According to Coral: changes to Canada's Fisheries Act

Coral Coldwater here, coming to you from the bottom of Hecate Strait. It's been a few years since my brush with fame, after the Finding Coral Expedition, but I’m still here (well, most of me is anyway).

Word from the surface is that the Fisheries Act - one of Canada’s oldest pieces of legislation and one that offers some of the strongest protection for aquatic critters like me - is up for some changes. The ducks are already quacking. They seem as happy as clams at high tide but I'm not sure if they know why.

What's been bubbling around these parts is that aquatic habitat is getting a haircut so that only those parts of the ocean that are important to creatures targeted in fisheries will be protected. That kind of leaves species like me and my cousins the glass sponges wondering what it all means for us. Everyone down here knows we have tons of ecological importance, just like kelp beds, because our skeletal structure provides nursery areas for all kinds of fish.

But up on the surface we have always had a tough time getting recognition for being more than just stacks of calcium carbonate. Since no one makes any money harvesting us, we have no economic value and it sounds like the role we play in the ecosystem down here just might not be considered important enough anymore to warrant protection by the powers that be.

At least Living Oceans Society and their partners got together with the trawl industry and worked out a bunch of innovative measures on their own to protect us from further damage (in Canada's Pacific waters, anyway). Even though these guys haven't seen eye to eye for a quillback's age, they realized they had common goals and instead of relying on the government, took the bullhead sculpin by the horns and did it themselves.

Otherwise, I guess that we would just be left out of the equation. It sure gets lonely down here when you feel that no one is looking out for you. These days, it seems like it's not enough to do the job you've been doing for millions of years. Instead, to earn protection, it seems you have to be making money for someone.

1 comment:

  1. In the words of the great Dr. Seuss;
    "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights."