Mapping of fragile reefs to help spot prawn habitat: Vancouver Aquarium
The Vancouver Aquarium says fragile glass sponge reef habitats are being damaged from prawn traps. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE VANCOUVER AQUARIUM)
The Vancouver Aquarium says it’s closer to mapping out fragile glass sponge reef habitat in Howe Sound to prevent them from being destroyed by people fishing for spot prawns.
Aquarium marine biologist Theodora Geach said the reefs are in danger of being crushed and ripped up by prawn traps.
“These are some really sensitive sponges that were previously thought to be extinct for more than 60 million years,” Geach said. “They’re very sensitive and fragile.”
Geach said spot prawn fishermen and the aquarium are working together to identify and map areas in Howe Sound, where the reefs are located, in an effort to help people avoid them.
The aquarium’s Ocean Wise program will also work to raise awareness about where the fragile areas are located in hopes of mitigating the damage done by fishing traps.
But Geach said avoiding the areas where the reefs live with the prawns will also help populations grow.
“By avoiding these particular areas it kind of provides some relief of fishing pressure and will have this spill-over effect where you’ll see increased populations of spot prawns just past the areas,” she said. “It’s good for the fishermen and it’s good for the reefs themselves.”