Off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington, a secret world of brilliantly colored deep sea corals, sponges, anemones, and other life exists. Among these creatures live numerous species of fish, shellfish, crabs, and other marine life seeking shelter from predators, food, and a place to grow. But it only takes a moment for destructive bottom trawling to obliterate these sensitive communities. Corals (taking hundreds or thousands of years to mature) get crushed or toppled by heavy nets and ropes that sweep the seafloor clean in search of bottom dwelling ground fish.
When a forest is clear-cut, it can take decades to grow back. But when the seafloor is clear-cut by bottom trawl nets, it can take much, much longer, as life grows back at a much slower pace in the ocean. That is why our nation’s fishery law requires those who manage fishing activities to safeguard sensitive seafloor from the impacts of bottom trawling. These places, designated as Essential Fish Habitat, are protected from destructive fishing techniques. Our managers are required to evaluate the need for Essential Fish Habitat every five years – but five years ago they did nothing to protect sensitive areas. It’s time to rectify that mistake.
Please tell the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the federal managers of fisheries at the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect these incredible but vulnerable places in the ocean off the West Coast. Thank you!!