Blog : Take Action: New England's Ocean Habitats at Risk

By Kelly | Jun 5, 2014 | in

Marine animals are constantly affected by human activities such as pollution, and commercial fishing. It is important for these animals to have a safe and healthy habitat. This is where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is tasked with regulating ocean fishing and protecting the nation's ocean resources.

For many decades, New England waters have been closed to various types of fishing gear. These restrictions were set in place to encourage the return of healthy populations of ground fish. However, the region does not have a plan for habitat management, which is required by federal law.

Various action plans for habitat management will be presented to the public later this year. These include a reduction in the size of the area currently protected. This is geared toward short-term interests of the commercial fishing industry over the long-term needs of the ecosystem. Recent work done by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute found "older cod-critical to the reproductive success of the species-are far more abundant inside protected areas, making these places crucial to the recovery of depleted cod populations."

The closed areas contribute to the recovery of the marine population, allowing for healthier fish populations. Ecosystems in which these fish live are also critical to protect, especially in a time of climate change. New England’s waters are warming disrupting fish populations, and threatening the food web. A climate change adaption strategy is a top priority to help fish adapt to warmer oceans.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Services, or NOAA Fisheries, have released a proposal that took ten years to develop. This action alert from The Pew Charitable Trusts is critical to the extension of the proposal review and comments from 45 to 90 days.

To vote and comment on this extension click here.