Printer Friendly

Alaskan coral beds get new protection.

Huge tracts of delicate coral gardens and soft-coral forests off the coast of Alaska will be permanently protected from fishing gear that targets groundfish and shellfish by scraping the seafloor.

Most of the affected sites have never been disturbed by this gear. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on June 28 announced its new rule to preserve that situation, which will take effect July 28. The rules don't address nets or long-line fishing practices that don't disturb the sea bottom.

The largest area to be protected, off the Aleutian Islands, covers 279,000 square nautical miles, an expanse the size of Texas and Colorado combined. Some sites were chosen to protect rockfish habitats. Others protect dense thickets of red tree corals or the unusual communities that have developed around seamounts.

NOAA's new rule is "a big deal," says Elliott A. Norse, president of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Bellevue, Wash. Not only does it conserve "a colossal area," he says, but "more importantly, it establishes the principle that bottom trawling is a really severe threat to slow-growing seafloor ecosystems." Trawling particularly damages deep-sea corals and sponges, he says (SN: 10/26/96, p. 268; 8/7/04, p. 88). He notes the new rule also establishes that "we shouldn't let trawling expand into new areas." Indeed, he explains, "the pass of a trawl that does the most devastation to fragile seafloor ecosystems is not the hundredth or even the thousandth--it's the first."--J. R.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Publication:Science News
Geographic Code:1U9AK
Date:Jul 22, 2006
Previous Article:Ingredient might prevent sexually transmitted disease.
Next Article:Global warming heats up nursery of hurricanes.

Related Articles
The age of Aquarius.
A perilous passage through volcanic ash.
Stressed Reefs May Get Relief.
Fish catch a break.
Preserving paradise: huge patch of Hawaiian reefs gets monumental protection.
Collapsing fisheries.
NSTA and NOAA take teachers online and underwater.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |