Every angler who fishes or ever might fish the Gulf of Mexico, as well as every true environmentalist who cares about the Gulf, owes a major "thank you!" to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
As I write this (Thursday morning, April 19), the council has just unanimously voted to go forward with the process that will list the Gulf's decommissioned oil rigs as Essential Fish Habitat and Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, official federal designations designed to protect critical habitat.
This action can be huge in the battle to save about 650 rigs - covered in tons of living coral - from the U.S. Department of the Interior, which has ordered the oil industry to destroy and remove them within the next five years.
The council's vote directs its staff to prepare the necessary management plans, and it will likely be some months before the council will have a final plan to approve and send on for the Secretary of Commerce's signature later this year.
But process is in motion!
In a blog last week, I urged council members to vote for EFH. Now I thank them for their wise judgment in taking this important step.
For a more thorough analysis of this action and its implications, don't miss Sport Fishing's editorial in the June issue.