Target: NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Regional Administrator, John K. Bullard
Goal: Stop New England fisheries from implementing destructive fishing practices.
The size of protected marine habitats could be heavily reduced if the managers of New England fisheries go through with plans currently being discussed that, if enacted, would allow bottom trawling in areas that, until recently, enjoyed protection. These ecosystems provide a necessary habit for a wide range of marine animals, including some of the region’s most famous species such as whales and cod. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) must intervene and protect these vulnerable habitats.
Bottom trawling is a common fishing technique in which fishing boats drag (or “trawl”) a large net along the sea floor. The practice is proven as one of the most effective ways to catch large quantities of fish, but the constant dragging can wreak havoc on the waters in which these sailors work. Depending on the decision from fishery managers, up to 70 percent of areas that are currently closed would be made available for bottom trawling.
If the NOAA fails to intervene, the environmental consequences could be dire. The most recent reports indicate that cod numbers in the Gulf of Maine are at record lows. Currently, only three percent of a healthy population exists in the Gulf.
Furthermore, sea surface temperatures in New England have been consistently rising and sit at an all-time high. As a result, the ocean food web has been dramatically affected. According to the NOAA, habitat protection is one of the most effective strategies for helping marine life adjust to higher temperatures. Bottom trawling would decimate New England’s marine habitat and put several species at risk.
New England’s Omnibus Habitat Amendment is currently being finalized and within this bill lies the fate of New England’s fisheries. Now more than ever, the endangered and at-risk species of fish, mammals, and seabirds need protection. Any economic benefits stemming from bottom trawling would immediately be overshadowed and rendered irrelevant by the devastating environmental effect that the practice would have on the habitat. The NOAA has previously indicated that it intends to protect the environment; now it is time to honor that commitment.
Dear Regional Administrator Bullard,
New England fishing is in a desperate situation because of severe depletion of cod and other groundfish populations. The predicament has been brought about by reckless and poorly-advised decisions by fishery managers looking to turn a profit, and now your agency faces another proposal concerning these managers. The suggestion to implement bottom trawling is irresponsible and could have devastating environmental repercussions.
Your own organization’s reports have proven that further reducing habitat protection efforts would ensure disaster, especially when factoring in the low population numbers and warming waters. Bottom trawling would decimate the marine habitat and make an already vulnerable environment even more unstable. As New England’s Omnibus Habitat Amendment nears completion, I urge you to honor your agency’s commitment to habitat protection.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Easchiff