Blog : New England Fishery Management Council Proposes to Eliminate Critical Habitats

By Katelyn | Nov 18, 2014 | in

Here in New England we love to spend our summers by the water, taking in the beautiful sights, sounds, and smells that the coast has to offer. We take pride in protecting our shores and the marine plants and animals that inhabit them, keeping them healthy for future generations.

Off of the coast of New England, there are currently crucial areas that are protected from harmful fishing practices of dredging and bottom trawling. These zones provide marine species with a safe place to reproduce and feed, and are essential in sustaining populations in the New England waters. Marine plants and animals, such as whales and cod, rely on the areas for their survival, and would be in danger if the protected zones were removed. From recent studies, it has been determined that only a mere 3 percent of the Gulf of Maine cod population is considered healthy. This is an all-time low for the species in this region and it demonstrates the population is in dire need of protection to have any chance of recovery.

The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) is considering greatly reducing the protected zones in New England waters through their Draft Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2, which addresses the habitat requirements for NEFMC Fishery Management Plans. This change would allow fishing vessels to expand into previously protected waters and engage in dredging and bottom trawling in new area. If this amendment is passed, as much as 70 percent of the area that is currently protected will be opened to these harmful fishing practices. The transformation would negatively impact marine populations and the environments that they live in off the coast of New England.

NEFMC is hosting a series of public hearings throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic states to listen to the public opinion of this change to the amendment. These public hearings are a great opportunity for New Englanders to express their opinion on the impacts of reducing protected zones. The first public hearing will be held on November 24, 2014 at the Sheraton Harborside in Portsmouth from 6:00-8:00 p.m. This will be the only public hearing in New Hampshire so don’t miss your chance to have your voice heard.

To learn more about the proposed changes and to and take action, click here.

For more information on the Public Hearings Schedule, click here.