06/10/2013 12:42 EDT | Updated 08/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Ottawa announces protection measures for rare sponge on Scotian Shelf

OTTAWA - Ottawa says it has taken action to protect a rare sponge that lives in the depths of the Scotian Shelf off Nova Scotia.

A statement from Peter MacKay, the regional minister for Nova Scotia, says two eastern sections of the shelf, about 260 kilometres in total, will be closed to bottom-contact fishing.

That means fishing with gear that contacts the sea floor, such as drags and barrels, will be prohibited.

The fragile sponge, called Vazella Pourtalesi, only exists in two other places in the world: the Gulf of Mexico and the Azores.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it worked with fishing industry representatives and First Nations groups in arriving at the decision.