Making a Plan to Protect our Beautiful Places

Apr 9, 2013 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Cheering SectionNow that we are in the throes of a real ocean planning process in New England , how will we protect special places in New England’s ocean? We have both a great responsibility and a great opportunity to do so as we bring people together to make decisions about how we will manage multiple and growing uses in our already busy ocean.

We must identify and protect the beautiful places in New England’s ocean that provide food and shelter and spawning areas that can help our ocean thrive. Places like Cashes Ledge, located about 80 miles east of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. It’s a unique underwater mountain range which provides refuge for a vibrant, diverse world of ocean wildlife.

The steep ridges and deep basins of Cashes Ledge create ideal conditions for marine life as currents mix nutrient- and oxygen-rich water at a depth exposed to sunlight. Home to the deepest and largest cold water kelp forest along the Atlantic seaboard, Cashes Ledge provides an important source of food and a diverse habitat for common New England fish and rare species such as the Atlantic wolffish. This abundance draws in even more ocean wildlife like migrating schools of bluefin tuna, blue and porbeagle sharks, and passing pods of highly endangered North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales.

Cashes Ledge is important not only to marine life but also to scientists hoping to learn about the health and function of New England’s oceans – many scientists believe that Cashes Ledge represents the best remaining example of an undisturbed Gulf of Maine ecosystem. As a result, scientists have used Cashes Ledge as an underwater laboratory for decades.

There are many other beautiful places in the Gulf of Maine, some we know about, and some we may not have identified yet. That’s why it’s essential that our regional planning process includes science-driven work to actively identify and protect these ecologically important areas. The basic chemistry of our ocean is rapidly changing, and if our ecosystems are going to adapt, they will need the space and time to do so. Reducing fishing, shipping, and other pressures on certain areas may be one of the best ways to give them these.

As CLF continues to be extremely active in New England’s ocean planning process, we will also continue highlighting the need to protect New England’s beautiful places and thriving ecosystems.

Please Stand With Us, For the Sake of Cod

Apr 3, 2013 by  | Bio |  12 Comment »

A few weeks ago my colleague Peter Shelley stood in front of fishermen and policymakers and spoke about the startling decline of New England’s cod fishery. Did you know that, since 1982, it’s estimated we have lost more than 80% of the cod in New England’s ocean? That surely should be a wake up call to us all.

That day, Peter’s argument was simple, and backed by sound science. We must act quickly, he argued, to prevent the Atlantic cod – New England’s most iconic fish — from complete and utter collapse.

The response? Hisses and boos. Hisses and boos.

Peter is no fool – he knew what was coming. A fisheries expert who filed the first lawsuit that led to the cleanup of Boston Harbor, Peter has heard this same response too often. But still, this response is as startling as it is unhelpful.

The science is clear. Atlantic cod populations are at an all-time historic low. The cod fishery, which for generations has supported a way of life in New England’s coastal communities, may be in complete collapse. Don’t believe me? Watch this video of Peter explaining the science behind this critical issue.

Over the coming 14 days, NOAA – the agency in charge of setting limits on how much cod commercial fisherman can catch – is deciding how much to allow commercial fisherman to catch this year. We at CLF believe that the managers of this public resource have a responsibility to revive and rebuild cod stocks.

Instead, they are continuing a decades-long pattern of risky decision-making that has run this fishery and its communities into the ground.

We have an opportunity to urge NOAA to save the Atlantic cod from complete collapse. But we have to act now. The longer we wait, the more we risk losing this iconic fishery.

We at CLF are working to urge NOAA to do three things:

  1. Shut down the commercial cod fishery, so as to save it for future generations
  2. Protect cod populations, especially the adult females that produce as many as 8 million eggs a year
  3. And, protect the ocean refuges that will allow cod to recover, not bow to industry pressure by opening them to more commercial fishing.

If you believe, as we at CLF believe, that the cod fishery is worth saving, please stand with thousands of New Englanders and take action today.

Now is not the time to push the limits of the law and set dangerously high catch levels. Now is not the time to bow to industry pressure. Now is not the time to risk this species for short-term gain.

Now is the time to show strength, and real leadership. Now is the time to try to save New England’s cod fishery for future generations to enjoy.

Please stand with us, and thousands of others, in calling on NOAA to protect this species before it’s too late.

Getting Educated – Sea Rovers Style

Mar 14, 2013 by  | Bio |  3 Comment »

Under the Ice

Under the Ice. Photo by Zach Whalen.

I’ll be honest with you – I tend to stay on top of the water when I’m in the ocean. Or, I try, anyway. As a surfer the goal is to spend as little time underwater as possible. Especially in the winter. But I’m starting to think I’m missing out on something by avoiding the chilly depths of our Gulf of Maine.

The Boston Sea Rovers, one of the oldest underwater clubs in the nation, hosted its 59th annual show this past weekend, and I was lucky enough to be there with some fellow CLFers. We went to talk about the importance of preserving valuable habitat, like Cashes Ledge, for protecting our fragile ocean ecosystems and helping our dwindling groundfish stocks recover.

We hoped that by showing people Brian Skerry’s beautiful photographs of the gorgeous kelp forest and amazing animals of Cashes Ledge, the divers would be inspired to help us protect it. They were – we got hundreds of signatures on our petition to ask our fisheries managers to protect essential habitat in the Gulf of Maine. And, while we may have gone there to talk, we ended up doing a lot of listening as well. Here are just a few things I learned after spending two days talking with divers:

  • The Gulf of Maine is an excellent place to dive. There are so many wonderful animals to see here.
  • But visibility often stinks. This is partly due to the very productive nature of our waters. As phytoplankton bloom and the food chain gets going, it gets a little harder to see. Or, poor visibility can be due to human activities in the water (see next bullet).
  • The ocean floor looks pretty bad after a bottom trawler comes through. I heard this dozens of times this weekend. “It looks like a freshly plowed field,” said one diver, and you can see the sediment plume from miles away.
  • The next time I want to talk to divers about the amazing beauty of Cashes Ledge, I’d better bring a map so they know how to get there and see for themselves.
  • The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the Discovery Channel have partnered to develop a robot that can follow a white shark. Seriously. I saw the footage. More on this later in the month (yes, I am totally geeking out on this).

I also learned that, in spite of difficulties equalizing my ears underwater, there may be ways I can still get down below, if I take things very slowly. I’m pretty stoked to find out if that’s true. My 10 year old son, who was with me this weekend, wants to learn also. Even more motivating!

I’m not sure I’ll be as hardy as diver Zachary Whalen, who took this awesome picture under the ice, but maybe I can at least go down below on a warmer day and watch the seals that I usually only see when they pop their heads up next to me while I surf.  But if there are waves – I’m bringing my board.

The Blizzard of ’78 – 35 Years Later, What Have We Learned?

Feb 8, 2013 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

The storm surge from the Blizzard of ’78 split this Rockport, MA house in half. Photo from the Mass.gov Blizzard of ’78 Gallery

Originally posted Tuesday, February 5th

Sometimes hardy New Englanders take perverse pride in the bad weather we endure. But that didn’t stop us from getting very concerned when Sandy headed our way last October. And it didn’t help to prevent the tragic losses that piled up during the Blizzard of ’78, which formed off the coast of South Carolina 35 years ago today, then pounded New England for two days after that.

The Blizzard of ’78 was really more of a winter hurricane than a blizzard. And not just a hurricane, but a “bomb”  – a meteorological term that refers to how quickly pressure fell during the storm’s formation. People were caught unprepared for the rapidly deteriorating conditions, leading to dozens of fatalities on land and at sea. Not only were thousands of people stranded on the roads, unable to get to safety, but the suddenness of the storm took mariners by surprise as well. In his bestseller Ten Hours Until Dawn, New England author Michael Tougias tells the riveting and tragic story of what occurred as several vessels rushed to the aid of a heating oil tanker that was taking on water after running aground in Salem Sound. The tanker was fine in the end, but the Can Do, one of the boats that attempted to provide assistance, was not – sinking with all hands lost.

The overall devastation from the storm was enormous. Tougias describes the aftermath well:

“In Rockport, cars were flung into the Old Harbor along with a house. Bearskin Neck houses were crushed, then ripped by the seas, including the red wooden building known as Motif #1, a popular subject for artists.”

 

“Motif #1” in Rockport was severely damaged during the Blizzard of ’78. (Photo by Mass.gov)
“Motif #1” in Rockport was severely damaged during the Blizzard of ’78. (Photo by Mass.gov)

 

“Up and down the Massachusetts coast, seawalls were flattened and hundreds of residents became trapped in their houses, encircled by swirling water that prevented them from running to higher ground.”

Particularly hard hit was Revere, just north of Boston and south of Salem… Three homes were totally leveled and several others suffered extensive damage from fire. However, it was the breaching of the seawall that did the most damage… The Beachmont section of Revere saw the worst devastation. Homes were bobbing down the streets, and many people thought they would literally be swallowed up by the sea.”

 

The breaching of the seawall in Revere left extensive destruction on Ocean Ave. (photo by the Boston Globe)
The breaching of the seawall in Revere left extensive destruction on Ocean Ave. (photo by the Boston Globe)

 

One of the reasons the destruction was so extensive from the Blizzard of ’78 was its horribly timed concurrence with an astronomical high tide. You may recall a more recent storm that visited our shores with the same bad timing.

Sandy reset our collective notion of “storm damage” in the Northeast. Most of us will never forget the images that scrolled across our screens that awful night (those of us that didn’t lose power, anyway), of subway tunnels flooding and horrible fires and a dark, so dark, New York City. More than three months later thousands of people are still suffering without heat or homes in Sandy’s aftermath. Nobody was really prepared for the scale of Sandy’s ravages. But Sandy was not a complete surprise. There have been some notable forerunners.

We’ve had our share of big storms on the East Coast. The Blizzard of ’78, of course, stands out. And 1938 is legendary for the Hurricane of 1938, or “The Long Island Express,” which rocketed up the coast at an unprecedented 70 miles per hour, taking out communications as it went, preventing people in its path from getting warning about the cataclysm that was headed their way.

1991 was an especially bad year – bringing us Hurricane Bob, the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history at the time, in mid-August, and the unnamed hurricane that sprang, very bizarrely, from the “Perfect Storm” that fall, which damaged parts of New England even worse than Bob had.

We know these big storms will come our way from time to time. We also know that our seas are rising – simply put, as they get warmer they expand. Disturbingly, we have recently come to understand that the sea is rising much faster in the Northeast than the global average. The ocean is coming closer, and the big storms will keep coming as well.  It’s time to get our act together and plan better for these big storms. We are weather-hardy in New England, but we are also smart enough to get prepared.

We can and should plan ahead. Employing the principles of regional ocean planning will help our coastal communities prepare for the next storm, using tools like the Boston Harbor Association’s model for “no regrets” adaptation to sea level rise, Massachusetts’ Storm Smart Coasts, and NOAA’s Hazard-Resilient Coastal & Waterfront Smart Growth, and building on lessons we are learning from our tempestuous history. We need a comprehensive, science-based, and participatory process that allows everyone who will be affected by decisions about our coastal areas to have a say in how we prepare for storms and sea level rise, and how we respond in the aftermath.

Hopefully it will be a very long time before we have to find out how ready we are for the next big storm – how well we have learned from the Blizzard of ’78, from Sandy, Bob, and the others. But, just in case we don’t have long to wait, let’s roll up our sleeves, get prepared, and make a plan for the worst.

CLF Calls to Shut Down New England Cod Fishery

Jan 31, 2013 by  | Bio |  3 Comment »

Yesterday the story of New England’s cod fishery took another tragic turn when the New England Fishery Management Council voted to drastically cut catch limits for New England’s two cod stocks—Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank cod—by 77 and 61 percent, respectively.

The Council’s action follows months of scientific debate on appropriate catch limits for cod. Recent assessments showed stocks at the lowest levels ever recorded and declining rapidly:

  • Georges Bank cod biomass is at just 7% of healthy, sustainable levels.
  • Gulf of Maine cod biomass is at 13-18% of healthy, sustainable levels.
  • The last better-than-average year for young Georges Bank cod production was 1991.
  • The amount of younger fish becoming available for fishing, known as recruitment, has been at the lowest estimated levels ever for the last five years running.

Confirming this dismal outlook, fishermen have been unable to find enough cod to even come close to filling their small quotas. The fish just aren’t there any more.

Despite this grim outlook, some in the industry asked for interim measures that would allow devastating overfishing to continue for yet another year, and the Massachusetts fisheries agency representative on the Council inexplicably asked for catch levels that were higher than the highest recommendations from scientists. NOAA regional administrator John Bullard rejected these efforts as legally and biologically unjustifiable.

Bullard told the Council yesterday that the “day of reckoning” for the fishery had arrived and that further management denial about the true state of the stocks could not be sanctioned. In this context, the Council chose to cut the catch – even in the face of industry opposition.

But the action to cut cod quota did not go far enough. The options implemented by the Council are the least aggressive cuts allowable by law, and under some assessments they still authorize overfishing. They push the limits of scientific advice and put the short-term economic interests over the long-term health of New England’s cod fishery and the viability of a whole generation of groundfishermen. Years of similarly short-sighted decision-making have caused the current biological disaster.

The Council unanimously rejected a motion to shut down the cod fishery entirely—an option that the NMFS Regional Director labeled as irresponsible, but one that may be the only chance for the recovery of New England’s cod stocks.

Canada took similar action to shut down its cod fishery in 1992, when its stocks were in a state remarkably similar to New England’s current disaster. Even their action in retrospect was too little and too late to avert a social and economic calamity; tens of thousands of people were put out of work, and cod stocks have still not fully recovered.

Unlike Canada, however, New England fishing communities are unlikely to see massive disaster relief funds. The New England Fishery Management Council now owns this problem and will bear full responsibility for the long term biological and socio-economic  consequences of their decision. While CLF hopes that the Council’s gamble is not reckless, decades of bad Council bets in the past and the current scientific advice do not bode well. Time will tell.

Now is not the time for denial. It is not the time for timid decisions and taking unconscionable risks. It is time to make the painful, necessary steps towards a better future for fishing in New England. Rather than arguing over the scraps left after decades of mismanagement, we should shut the cod fishery down and protect whatever cod are left.

 

Waves of Change: Planning for a Noisier Ocean

Jan 29, 2013 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

Shipping and whales on Stellwagen Bank Have you ever been at a noisy party and couldn’t hear the guy next to you? Or been on your phone when a fire truck went by and you couldn’t hear the conversation? Or gone to a rock concert and had a “hearing hangover” for hours afterwards? This sort of thing happens in the ocean, too, except marine life can’t just leave the party or put in earplugs (well, most of them can’t, anyway).

Sound travels really well in seawater, but light does not, so ocean animals rely on sound for a variety of reasons. For example, New England’s oyster toadfish will signal his mate that he’s got a nest ready for spawning by making a “boat-whistle” call. Lots of other fish make and use noise not only to attract a mate, but to scare off predators, or tell other fish to stay out of their territory. Check out this fun set of fish calls to hear more. Marine mammals make noise, too – whales use sound to hunt, navigate, avoid predators, bond with their young, and generally communicate with each other.

But our oceans are getting noisier and it’s harder for marine life to use sound they way they need to. Too much noise can harm ocean animals in a variety of ways. It can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, make it hard for the animal to find food, separate a mother and calf, or even lead to strandings or death. Shipping, ocean dredging, seismic surveys for energy development or seafloor mapping, military exercises, and fishing – all can make for a noisy ocean environment.

Researchers are only just starting to make progress in mapping out our ocean noise, to help us get a handle on how to reduce the impact of it on wildlife. For an example, look at these new maps of ocean noise in the North Atlantic. Unfortunately there is a lot of uncertainty about what kinds of sound are worst for marine life, and at what levels.

There is not a robust regulatory mechanism for addressing ocean noise pollution in a comprehensive way. The procedures for addressing harm to marine mammals differ among various sound producers—for example, commercial shippers, fishermen and aquaculture operators, the military, the oil and gas industry, and the academic community. In general, ocean and coastal resources are currently managed by more than 20 federal agencies and administered through a web of more than 140 different and often-conflicting laws and regulations.

We need to do better, and we can.

An example of how we can learn to better coordinate ocean noise and wild animals is right here in the Gulf of Maine. Our critically endangered North Atlantic right whales need to be able to hear and use sound even more than they need to be able to see. Researchers from the Cornell University Bioacoustics Research Program have spent the past few years studying whales and noise in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. They have found that today’s whales, as compared to 50 years ago, live in a world of “acoustic smog,” and that “cumulative noise from all the shipping traffic is making it difficult for all the right whales in the area to hear each other most of the time, not just once in a while.”

The researchers suggest that this new knowledge can help adapt current management tools and be used as part of “comprehensive plans that seek to manage the cumulative effects of offshore human activities on marine species and their habitats.”

They are on to something. This call for collaborative, data-driven, practical management is at the heart of Regional Ocean Planning. A good regional ocean planning process can help us coordinate our activities while minimizing and mitigating conflicts among ocean users and protecting healthy ecosystems. It is the process that recently helped researchers in Stellwagen Bank better protect whales from vessel strikes by shipping traffic. And it’s a process that can help us unravel the ocean noise puzzle – and better protect our hearing marine life, while continuing to develop our maritime economy.

Waves of Change: Who’s in Charge Here?

Jan 11, 2013 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Rules work better when we all understand them, but what happens when the rules overlap or conflict with one another? And, who is in charge of implementing all these rules anyhow? When it comes to the rules of the road we all learn the same common rules during the drivers’ education course. But, what happens when it comes to the rules which manage and protect our ocean and coasts?

Ocean and coastal resources are currently managed by more than 20 federal agencies and administered through a web of more than 140 different and often conflicting laws and regulations. We use our coasts and ocean for so many things – fishing, boating, swimming, tourism, shipping, renewable energy – and there are no easy guidelines about who is in charge at any given moment, in any given spot.

Fortunately, we are on our way to making this puzzle of governance a bit easier to solve.

The National Ocean Policy directs federal agencies to coordinate management activities, implement a science-based system of decision making, support safe and sustainable access and ocean uses, respect cultural practices and maritime heritage, and increase scientific understanding of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Improving the way in which federal and state agencies work with each other and the public is a distinct goal of the National Ocean Policy. To do this, the NOP presents a set of nine priority objectives for policies and management actions and establishes a new National Ocean Council (NOC), which will be responsible for developing strategic action plans for these priority objectives and leading coordination and collaboration between federal agencies.

A well coordinated group of agencies can better serve the people they are supposed to serve, create the jobs and economic benefits we all need, help us enjoy and safeguard our waters, beaches, and wildlife for our families and our future.

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Dec 18, 2012 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

 

Will you help keep this Atlantic wolffish home for the holidays?

For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home. “Home” means something different for each wildlife species in their ocean habitat of the Gulf of Maine. For example, animals like the Atlantic wolffish  tend to live in rocky areas where they can hide out, guard their eggs and ambush prey. Wolffish depend on this particular type of habitat to live, and other species are just as dependent on other types of habitat. Places such as Cashes LedgeJeffreys Ledge and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary provide rich habitat for highly depleted cod and haddock, sea turtles and four species of whales.

Most of these three areas in the Gulf of Maine currently benefit from fishing regulations which prohibit harmful bottom trawling, but these protections are temporary. With groundfish populations at their lowest recorded levels, some members of the trawling industry are pushing for regulations to increase trawling in the few protected habitat areas in the Gulf of Maine. After being declared a “fishery disaster,” changes in regulations to allow bottom trawling in Cashes Ledge, Jeffreys Ledge and the only protected portion of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary seems counterintuitive to ever devising a long-term strategy that could help restore groundfish populations in the Gulf of Maine. At a time of the lowest recorded groundfish populations in history, how does it make sense to increase bottom trawling in the best, remaining habitat areas?

This week the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) could make some decisions that decide the fate of important habitat areas in the Gulf of Maine. On Thursday, Dec. 20th, the NEFMC meets to consider fishing catch limits and proposals to allow trawling in currently protected habitat areas. The NEFMC is an important advisory body to the National Marine Fisheries Service, but it is really NMFS who is legally responsible for providing sustainable management of this public resource and it’s NMFS who has the responsibility to adequately protect ocean wildlife habitat. If there is a time to take action to help put this fishery on a path to eventual recovery, it is now.

Other New England fishermen, both commercial and recreational, understand the value of protected habitat and how healthy habitat benefits their own interests. In fact, the recreational fishing advisory panel of NEFMC voted in October to retain all current protections for habitat areas. Recreational fishermen and charter captains from Maine to Rhode Island well know that the cod their clients catch in the Gulf of Maine spawn from areas where large bottom trawlers are not allowed. In the words of one recreational fishing captain, “I’m not an advocate of opening any of the closed areas and dead set against the opening of the WGOM (Western Gulf of Maine) area. You’re destroying the livelihood of the recreational boats and you’re allowing the big boats to compete with the little boats.”

NOAA needs to hear this message loud and clear. Send a message to NOAA to urge the responsible protection of Cashes Ledge and other important habitat areas in the Gulf of Maine. Because, no matter where you celebrate your holidays, healthy ocean habitat is a gift that benefits us all.

Healthy Habitat Helps Create Healthy Fisheries

Dec 14, 2012 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

One of the fundamental concepts of marine ecology and modern fisheries management is that fish and other ocean wildlife need various types of habitat to feed, grow, and reproduce. Healthy ocean habitat is crucial to the well-being of ocean ecosystems and also provides spawning grounds for commercially important groundfish. New England’s ocean waters are home to several special places that deserve permanent protection.

Cashes Ledge, an underwater mountain range 80 miles off the coast of Maine, supports the largest and deepest kelp forest off the Northeastern United States and is home to an enormous diversity of ocean wildlife – from whales, Atlantic wolffish, and blue sharks, to fields of anemones and sponges. This kelp forest provides an important source of food and habitat for a vast array of ocean wildlife. Other places such as Jeffreys Ledge and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary provide rich habitat for highly depleted cod and haddock, sea turtles, and four species of whales.

Most of these three areas in the Gulf of Maine currently benefit from fishing regulations which prohibit harmful bottom trawling, but these protections are temporary. Some of the largest commercial fishing trawlers in the region are pushing for changes in regulations to allow bottom trawling in Cashes Ledge, Jeffreys Ledge and the only protected portion of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

After the last cod crisis in the 1990s the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), after a court decree spurred by a CLF legal action, designated Cashes Ledge and an area known as the “Western Gulf of Maine” which holds Jeffreys Ledge and 22% of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, as “mortality closures.” The action restricted destructive trawling, but it allowed a wide array of other commercial fishing gear such as bottom gillnets, purse seines, hook and line and more the questionable practice of “mid-water trawls,” which despite their name, often catch groundfish. Recreational fishing and charter boats were not restricted.

This single protective measure restricting commercial bottom trawling helped to restore seriously depleted populations in these areas. Moreover, protecting areas like Cashes Ledge created the “spillover effect” where larger populations of fish migrate out of the boundaries of the protected area. This is why commercial fishing vessels often “fish the borders” of protected areas.

After a new stock assessment released one year ago showed that populations of cod, haddock and other groundfish were at all time lows, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under pressure from some of the largest trawlers in the New England fleet started to hint that allowing bottom trawling in previously protected habitat areas – places like Cashes Ledge – might help to increase falling harvest amounts. At a time of the lowest recorded groundfish populations in history, how does it make sense to increase trawling in the best, remaining habitat areas?

This is why we must urge NOAA to keep our habitat protections in place.

Cashes Ledge is important not only to fish and ocean wildlife but also to scientists hoping to learn about the health and function of New England’s oceans. Many scientists believe that Cashes Ledge represents the best remaining example of an undisturbed Gulf of Maine ecosystem and have used Cashes Ledge as an underwater laboratory to which they have compared more degraded habitat in the Gulf of Maine.

The basic fact is that opening scarce protected habitat in the Gulf of Maine to bottom trawling at a time of historically low groundfish populations is among the worst ideas for recovering fish populations and the industry which depend upon them. But fisheries politics in New England remain. On Dec. 20th the NEFMC may take action through a backdoor exemption process to allow bottom trawling in a large portion of Cashes Ledge and other areas. NOAA needs to keep current protections in place. CLF is committed to securing permanent protection to ensure the long-term health of this important and vulnerable ecosystem. Click here to urge NOAA to protect New England ocean habitat and help ensure a healthy future for New England’s ocean.

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