On February 7-8, NCMC participated in a workshop hosted by Oceana and MCBI (Marine Biology Conservation Institute) to drum up support for the Bottom Trawl and Deep Sea Coral Habitat Act, which is being reviewed by committees in the House of Representatives.
If enacted, this legislation would take a proactive stance in fish habitat protection, freezing the current footprint where deep water bottom trawling is occurring in U.S. waters until valuable deep sea coral ecosystems can be mapped. When an ecosystem is located, the bill dictates that it be protected within a Coral Conservation Zone where activities impacting the sea floor (e.g. trawling, oil exploration, mining and dredging) would be prohibited.
Because they occur at such great depths, management of deep sea corals remains "out of sight, out of mind" resulting in the destruction of these ecosystems before they are discovered and studied. Bottom trawlers drag nets up to 200-feet wide and 40-feet high across the ocean floor and can clear-cut a reef within minutes. Once destroyed, it is unknown if these corals can ever grow back. If they can, regeneration might take hundreds if not thousands of years.
We need your help to keep the bill at the forefront of the House's agenda, so it has a chance to be voted out of committee for approval by the full House! Please write to your district's representative and let him/her know that you want deep sea coral ecosystems to be protected. If your representative is already a sponsor or cosponsor of the bill, please send along your thanks for his/her support. (see sample letter and submission instructions.)