Government moves to protect sea floor mountain and thermal vents off B.C.’s coast

By The Canadian Press
May 24, 2017 - 9:00am Updated: May 24, 2017 - 2:54pm

BURNABY, B.C. — The federal government is taking the first step in protecting an area that contains rare, chimney-like hydrothermal vents off British Columbia’s coast.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans announced Wednesday the Marine Protected Area would cover an area twice the size of New Brunswick, or about 140,000 square kilometres, west of Vancouver Island to the edge of Canadian waters, 200 nautical miles off the coast.

The vents, which were only discovered in 1982, release minerals from the Earth’s crust and are home to a variety of unique sea life and plants that have adapted to the harsh conditions created by the warm or saline water.

The ministry says it intends to create the Marine Protected Area by 2020, but there are many hurdles to overcome first.

It says final boundaries and activity restrictions still need to be worked out and there will be consultations with local, provincial and indigenous partners.

The area would also protect a seamount, or an underwater mountain, that rises more than 1,000 metres from the sea floor.

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