Abstract Title

Session S-10F: Understanding and Communicating Salish Sea Human Dimensions and Ecological Health

Proposed Abstract Title

Journey to the Sea of Glass: Engaging stakeholders, scientists and decision-makers to protect BC's glass sponge reefs

Keywords

Planning Assessment & Communication

Location

Room 602-603

Start Date

2-5-2014 1:30 PM

End Date

2-5-2014 3:00 PM

Description

Thought to have been extinct for 40 million years, living glass sponge reefs were first discovered in Hecate Strait on the north coast of British Columbia in 1987 and then in 2001 in the Salish Sea. Glass sponge reefs have only been found in Pacific Northwest, making them globally significant as well as ecologically important. The reefs are also extremely fragile, studies have shown that approximately half of B.C.’s reefs have been already been damaged by bottom trawling. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) has been working to protect B.C.’s glass sponge reefs since 2002 by increasing engagement at all levels, from decision-makers and scientists, to the general public. To bridge the gaps between science, conservation, and policy, we have built strong working relationships with decision makers at all levels of government and with leading international scientists, including Dr. Manfred Krautter (University of Stuttgart) and Dr. Sally Leys (University of Alberta). Working closely with scientists ensures that our messaging is current and supports the development and achievement of science-based, solution-oriented campaign objectives. In 2008, we co-hosted a Glass Sponge Reef Symposium with Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) to facilitate collaborative research between scientists. We also performed a tour of coastal communities with Dr. Krautter and our glass sponge mascot “Mr. Stinky” to engage the public with both the issues and the ongoing research. We work closely with community groups to strengthen our reach throughout the region. In May 2013 we hosted a Glass Sponge Reef Conservation Workshop for conservation groups, scientists, and resource managers to share information, identify knowledge gaps, and discuss protection measures in the Salish Sea. In October 2013, in partnership with Nuytco Research Ltd, we hosted al two-day submarine expedition to one of the Salish Sea reefs with a public competition to win a seat. The primary aim was to raise awareness of the reefs and engage a wider audience. The event was extremely successful, achieving local, national and international media coverage including National Geographic, Global BC TV, and CBC. We also created a series of social media-friendly short films around the event to benefit ongoing engagement efforts. By engaging stakeholders at all levels our campaign has been instrumental in raising public awareness of the reefs, the development of Canada’s Pacific Region Cold-Water Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy 2010-2015, and establishment of the Hecate Strait glass sponge reef Marine Protected Area. We are currently campaigning for fishing closures for the Salish Sea reefs, which should be established in early 2014 and will be an important step in the development of a marine protected area.

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May 2nd, 1:30 PM May 2nd, 3:00 PM

Journey to the Sea of Glass: Engaging stakeholders, scientists and decision-makers to protect BC's glass sponge reefs

Room 602-603

Thought to have been extinct for 40 million years, living glass sponge reefs were first discovered in Hecate Strait on the north coast of British Columbia in 1987 and then in 2001 in the Salish Sea. Glass sponge reefs have only been found in Pacific Northwest, making them globally significant as well as ecologically important. The reefs are also extremely fragile, studies have shown that approximately half of B.C.’s reefs have been already been damaged by bottom trawling. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) has been working to protect B.C.’s glass sponge reefs since 2002 by increasing engagement at all levels, from decision-makers and scientists, to the general public. To bridge the gaps between science, conservation, and policy, we have built strong working relationships with decision makers at all levels of government and with leading international scientists, including Dr. Manfred Krautter (University of Stuttgart) and Dr. Sally Leys (University of Alberta). Working closely with scientists ensures that our messaging is current and supports the development and achievement of science-based, solution-oriented campaign objectives. In 2008, we co-hosted a Glass Sponge Reef Symposium with Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) to facilitate collaborative research between scientists. We also performed a tour of coastal communities with Dr. Krautter and our glass sponge mascot “Mr. Stinky” to engage the public with both the issues and the ongoing research. We work closely with community groups to strengthen our reach throughout the region. In May 2013 we hosted a Glass Sponge Reef Conservation Workshop for conservation groups, scientists, and resource managers to share information, identify knowledge gaps, and discuss protection measures in the Salish Sea. In October 2013, in partnership with Nuytco Research Ltd, we hosted al two-day submarine expedition to one of the Salish Sea reefs with a public competition to win a seat. The primary aim was to raise awareness of the reefs and engage a wider audience. The event was extremely successful, achieving local, national and international media coverage including National Geographic, Global BC TV, and CBC. We also created a series of social media-friendly short films around the event to benefit ongoing engagement efforts. By engaging stakeholders at all levels our campaign has been instrumental in raising public awareness of the reefs, the development of Canada’s Pacific Region Cold-Water Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy 2010-2015, and establishment of the Hecate Strait glass sponge reef Marine Protected Area. We are currently campaigning for fishing closures for the Salish Sea reefs, which should be established in early 2014 and will be an important step in the development of a marine protected area.