Stop Fishing Companies From Destroying Recovering Habitats

Target: Eric Schwaab, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)

Goal: Maintain the protected status of ocean habitats still recovering from years of hard fishing

Several protected areas of ocean habitat off the coast of New England are being threatened with the same fishing methods that originally devastated them. A plan to open parts of these protected areas for fishing once again is under review. Stop commercial fishing companies from raiding these recovery zones and urge Eric Schwaab to ensure their continued protection.

In the 1990’s, fish populations along the New England coast took a plummeting nose-dive. After yeas of hard fishing, the seafloor habitats of cod, haddock, flounder, and other ‘groundfish’ had been devastated to the point where these species could not survive. In order to save the industry, large areas of New England waters were protected from the bottom trawling that ravaged them. This wise move allowed groundfish to spawn and the habitat to begin mending itself, but fishing companies facing catch shortages are pushing for bottom trawling to be permitted once again.

Bottom trawling is a method of fishing in which giant nets are dragged across the ocean floor. Trawler nets scrape up every living thing in their path before being hauled up to the boat and picked through for the ‘desirable’ catch usually making up less than a quarter of what’s caught. The rest is thrown back into the sea, dead or dying and far from its home on the ocean floor. Considering the damage this kind of fishing can do, it is no surprise that the fish populations and ocean habitats of New England are still recovering from years of bottom trawling.

In order to stop these areas from being reopened, NOAA must be convinced to perform a full environmental evaluation – one that will likely prove the short-lived benefits of the current plan. A letter signed by concerned professors from across the US has requested this evaluation, but in order for NOAA to heed the request, the letter needs all the support it can get. Sign this petition in support of the letter and save New England’s fish and ocean habitats from certain destruction.


Dear Eric Schwaab,

The New England Fishery Management Council in collaboration with NOAA have recently introduced their plan to reopen a large portion of New England’s protected ocean habitat. While it is true that New England fishing companies are facing shortages, reintroducing bottom trawling to protected areas is not a solution.

It has been easy to correlate the plummeting populations of fish, smaller surviving fish, and diminished catches with years of hard fishing around New England. What may be harder to ascertain is the long-term effects overfishing will have on the area and the fishing industry. A letter was recently addressed to you requesting a full environmental evaluation of the plan to reinstate bottom trawling, and I stand in agreement with that request. It is my firm belief that the concerns voiced in the letter are valid, and more bottom trawling will provide short-term benefits and long-term catastrophe. I urge you to heed the request of the letter, re-evaluate the situation, and maintain protection of New England’s safeguarded fishing regions.


[Your Name Here]

photo credit: mahalie stackpole via Wikimedia Commons

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