Video: Take a 90-Second Dive on Cashes Ledge

Aug 27, 2014 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Cashes Ledge is a spectacular underwater mountain range unlike anyplace you’ll find on land or sea – it’s one of the most dynamic hotspots of biodiversity in New England and the entire North Atlantic. Now it’s in danger. Cashes Ledge has been protected from the most harmful fishing practices for more than 10 years. But this amazing preserve for fish and ocean wildlife may be just a few months away from having its protected status revoked.

We’re not going to let that happen – and you can help by doing just three things:

1. Watch our video. Since we can’t take you to Cashes Ledge, we enlisted National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, Brown University Biologist Jon Witman, and local fishermen to help bring Cashes to you.

2. If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to NOAA today, asking them to protect Cashes Ledge.

3. Share this video far and wide with your friends, colleagues, and networks. – and ask them to sign our petition and support our work. Because we need many more passionate people like you to take action, today, to protect this remarkable marine refuge.

It’s going to take all of us raising our voices loudly and clearly to protect Cashes Ledge. Thank you for your commitment and for being part of the CLF community.

 

Dedication and Talent Obvious Among Commission Members Studying Ocean Acidification

Aug 7, 2014 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Did you know that climate change has made the Gulf of Maine 500% less productive at producing marine life? How much of that reduced productivity is a result of ocean acidification is a question that might be answered by Maine’s Ocean Acidification Study Commission, which met for the first time on August 1. The Commission, the second in the nation of its kind, is tasked with understanding the science behind ocean acidification, determining what we still need to learn to fully understand the problem, and recommending potential solutions.

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Rep. Mick Devin shucks oysters during the first Maine Study Commission meeting, highlighting research done on ocean acidification at the University of Maine’s Darling Center.

The Commission is composed of an impressive array of legislators, fishermen and scientists, most of whom are volunteering their time. At the August 1 meeting, which was open to the public, Commission members asked tough and detailed questions to a team of scientists who shared their knowledge about this problem. Here are some of the facts that I learned at the meeting:

  • Ocean acidification is like acid rain, in that carbon dioxide combines with water to form carbonic acid. Its impacts differ, however, because the ocean can absorb more carbonic acid than freshwater lakes (which were most affected by acid rain). The acid nonetheless eats away at the shells of mollusks like clams and oysters and affects crustaceans like lobsters by impacting the calcium carbonate that they use to make shells. Scientists are still studying and discovering exactly how harmful ocean acidification is to shellfish.
  • The major cause of ocean acidification is carbon from fossil fuel emissions. We must find local, regional, and national ways to reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from sources like power plants and cars.
  • We must also reduce coastal sources of acidification, such as stormwater runoff and insufficient sewage treatment. This can be done mostly by passing laws and taking actions that drastically reduce the amount of nutrients that flow into the ocean from these controllable sources.
  • We have to find ways to help marine life adapt to the changes already caused by ocean acidification and those further changes that we cannot stop. Scientists are looking at whether we can recycle mollusk shells and add them to bays to act like an antacid, the ability of plants like seaweed and sea grass to absorb carbon, and ocean planning to perhaps start seaweed farms (which could reduce carbon) near shellfish farms (which are harmed by carbon).
  • Some shellfish farmers in Maine have already begun storing sea water to use during times when stormwater runoff makes the water unsafe for developing oysters.

In a state where 75% of our fisheries income is derived from shellfish, the Commission has a large task in front of it. The sincerity, expertise and dedication of the Commission members inspired confidence that they will find ways to help reduce the causes of acidification and lessen its impacts on our fisheries. CLF is especially grateful to Representative Mick Devin for introducing the legislation and working so hard to bring scientists and others to the first meeting. Senator Chris Johnson and Representative Wayne Perry also played active roles at the meeting, asking thoughtful questions and helping to shape the work ahead.

The Commission has set up working committees and will meet three more times as a whole. After that, they will write a report to be presented to the state legislature by December 5. If you want to learn more about the Commission, or attend any of their meetings, check out their website.

CLF will assist the Commission using our legal and policy expertise. On a state and regional level, we will continue to work for clean energy sources to replace fossil fuels, and for laws and permits that reduce or eliminate sources of nutrient pollution to our ocean.

Meet the CLF Dive Team

Jun 2, 2014 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

CLF-Dive-Team-1

The team getting ready for action.

With the CLF dive team busy exploring Cashes Ledge and other sites in the Gulf of Maine, we thought we’d introduce you to our star-studded team of ocean adventurers!

 

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Brian Skerry is a renowned underwater photographer praised around the world for his aesthetic sense and evocative scenes. His images tell stories that not only celebrate the mystery and beauty of the sea, but also help bring attention to the threats that endanger our oceans and their inhabitants.

A contributing photographer for National Geographic Magazine since 1998, Brian has covered a wide range of stories, from the harp seal’s struggle to survive in frozen waters to the alarming decrease in the world’s fisheries. His latest book, a 160-photo monograph entitled Ocean Soul, was published in 2011.

Skerry is also a passionate ocean advocate. After three decades of exploring the world’s oceans, the Massachusetts native has returned to the Gulf of Maine to document and protect its exceptional diversity of marine wildlife and habitat.

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Jon Witman is a professor of biology at Brown University. He has studied the ecology of subtidal marine communities for over 30 years, and has conducted research in six of the world’s seven oceans.

Jon led the first ecological study of overfishing in the Gulf of Maine. He has published numerous peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on the invertebrate and fish communities that thrive on the rocky seafloor at Cashes Ledge, and he has also studied the internal waves that support primary productivity in the area. He is committed to protecting the ecological and scientific value of this unique marine habitat.

Jon will also be joined on the expedition by his Ph.D. student Robby Lamb.

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Evan Kovacs started his filming career in 2003 on the History Channel’s underwater adventure series Deep Sea Detectives.  He has also had an ongoing filming relationship with the Emmy award winning Lonewolf Documentary Group, and recently the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

With WHOI’s Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab, Evan has filmed on the deep submersible ALVIN and the ROV Jason. Currently he is working with the lab to develop the next generation of 3D and 2D cameras and shooting techniques for topside and underwater imaging. Evan has been diving for over 18 years and has dived on shipwrecks, caves and reefs across the world.

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Luis Lamar is a scientific technician with WHOI’s Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab. He has filmed and photographed marine life around the world, from New Zealand to Micronesia. Lu has assisted Brian Skerry on numerous dive expeditions and has captured video of the kelp forests on Cashes Ledge for Conservation Law Foundation.

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Ken Houtler is the captain of WHOI’s R/V Tioga, a research boat launched in 2004 and designed for day and overnight trips in coastal waters. Ken has led the vessel on countless research expeditions in New England waters, including trips to deploy and recover autonomous oceanographic instruments, to collect data on harmful algal blooms, and to tag endangered North Atlantic right whales.

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Liz Kintzing is the expedition’s dive captain. Liz supervises the academic diving program at the University of New Hampshire’s School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, and she also sits on the board of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. She has been diving with Jon Witman on Cashes Ledge for over 20 years.

New England’s Congressional Members Demonstrate Strong Leadership and Support for Regional Ocean Planning and the National Ocean Policy

May 16, 2014 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Congress has finally announced a bipartisan compromise on legislation to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act (WRRDA). Thanks to the leadership of Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and California Senator Barbara Boxer, a potentially damaging rider that would have prohibited the US Army Corps of Engineers from working with states and tribes to improve regional management was left out of the final bill. If the provision had been included in the bill – which contains billions of dollars in projects – management decisions for our nation’s coasts and waterways, vitally important for New England states, would have suffered greatly.

The rider, promoted by GOP Congressman Bill Flores of Waco, Texas, would have prohibited the US Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the National Ocean Policy and disallowed the Nation’s leading manager of waterways from coordinating with states, businesses, scientists and coastal users in devising plans for managing coasts, oceans and the Great Lakes. Rep. Flores’ attempt to stop new collaboration and planning among federal and state agencies and ocean users, such as energy developers and shipping interests, ignores the hundreds of billions of dollars of economic value in coastal and Great Lakes commerce, which to a large degree depend upon a network of integrated management.

CLF loudly applauds New England’s Representatives Pingree (ME-1), Michaud (ME-2), Neal (MA-1), Shea-Porter (NH-1), Kuster (NH-2), Welch (VT), McGovern (MA-2), Tsongas (MA-3), Kennedy (MA-4), Tierney (MA-6), Capuano (MA-7), Lynch (MA-8), Keating (MA-9), Cicillene (RI-1), Langevin (RI-2), Larson, (CT-1), Courtney (CT-2), DeLauro (CT-3), Himes (CT-4), and Esty (CT- 5), all of whom voted correctly to oppose the Flores rider.

Unfortunately, the WRRDA bill did not enact the National Endowment for the Oceans, a program championed by Senator Whitehouse (D-RI). However, a new Army Corps program focusing on ocean and coastal resiliency was included that addresses a great need for funding and focuses efforts on our ocean and coastal ecosystems. In a press release issued Thursday, Senator Whitehouse comments, “In Rhode Island and throughout the country, the strength of our economy is tied directly to the health of our oceans and coasts. This program will provide a new avenue through which we can protect and restore those ecosystems. While I would have preferred to establish a separate oceans endowment with broader authority, this program within the Army Corps will enable important projects to go forward that might have otherwise languished. It represents an important step in our nation’s effort to protect coastal resources, and I look forward to supporting this program going forward.”

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, recreational access, and maritime heritage; and conserve ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems. The National Ocean Policy does this by providing a framework of ocean planning, a science-based process of improving decisions about ocean resources before conflict arises that involves everyone who has a stake in ocean management, including towns and cities, scientists, fishermen, conservation groups, recreational users, and businesses. The importance of coastal marine spatial planning in decision making is clearly demonstrated as Rhode Island approves its first offshore wind project.

Conservation Law Foundation thanks New England’s leaders for recognizing that partisan politics do not have a place when our ocean, coastal and Great lakes regions have significant management challenges to tackle and that real challenges need real solutions.

Maine Legislature Takes First Step Towards Averting Disastrous Impacts of Ocean Acidification

Mar 12, 2014 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Maine’s legislature is taking early steps to address increasingly acidic ocean waters in the Gulf of Maine that threaten the state’s shellfisheries and marine ecosystem.

The Gulf of Maine has become increasingly more acidic as CO2 emissions from industrial sources and vehicles get deposited in the water, where the carbon mixes to form carbonic acid. This problem is aggravated by polluted stormwater runoff.  The more acidic seawater has been shown to dissolve juvenile clam shells, and larvae are avoiding the most acidic mudflats. Studies predict that the increasing acidity, if left unchecked, will also stunt the growth of lobsters, and cause them to develop thicker shells. Oyster production is also expected to drop dramatically.

Maine is more dependent on its marine resources for its economic health than any other state in the Northeast. Nearly 6,000 active harvesters work in our lobster and clam fisheries alone, while hundreds of other industries and communities support, and depend on, this vital source of revenue and livelihoods.

Last week, the Maine Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee took a giant first step towards addressing the problem when it voted unanimously to send a bill that authorizes a study of the issue to the house floor. The bill, introduced by Representative Mick Devin, would establish a 16-member panel to identify what further study is needed and what legislation can be introduced in the 2015 legislative session to address ocean acidification. The bill starts a critical process designed to counteract ocean acidification now, rather than waiting until it has rotted away our shellfish industry and irrevocably changed the fish that can survive in our waters.

CLF strongly supports this first but significant step in averting this potential economic and environmental crisis. We joined with other organizations and fishing interests to help ensure positive support for Representative Devin’s bill in the Marine Resources Committee. In the near future, the bill will go to the floor for a vote by the full legislature. Please contact your legislators and let them know of your support for this important bill. If you want to learn more, post a comment or email ifrignoca@clf.org.

Oil and Water Don’t Mix

May 14, 2013 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Cape Cod National Seashore

With warming seas and ocean acidification putting unprecedented pressure on our already heavily fished, shipped, and polluted coastal areas, adding the extreme pressures of seismic testing and offshore oil drilling, which we keep hearing are supposed to be safe and foolproof, but never really are, seems like a foolhardy move.

There are plenty of other options for developing offshore energy that will not put us at such high risk of horrible toxic spills and deadly-to-wildlife noise. We don’t want dead or deformed fish, whales, and dolphins in our ocean, and tar balls on beaches where our kids build sand castles. We have some of America’s most beautiful coastal areas and amazing ocean life here in New England, and we need to keep them that way.

What can you do to help? Be part of a global campaign by joining one of your local Hands Across the Sand events this Saturday, May 18th, 12 PM local time, to say “No” to dirty fossil fuels and “Yes” to clean, renewable energy. Hands Across the Sand started in Florida in 2010, and has rapidly grown into a major global campaign. The idea is simple – join your fellow ocean champions on the beach, lock hands, and unite in opposition to dirty energy.

Have someone take a picture and post it to the Hands Across the Sands Flickr page (and, if you’re in New England, please share your photos with us, too!), and send it to your elected officials for even greater impact. Visit the Hands Across the Sand page to find a local even or organize your own.

Fishermen, beach-goers, surfers, and conservation groups agree – oil drilling has no place in New England’s ocean. So take a stand and put your Hands Across the Sand!

This was originally posted on New England Ocean Odyssey on May 14th, 2013.

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.

Providing Ocean Beauty, Health, and Wealth Demands NOAA Leadership

Oct 12, 2012 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Cod at Cashes Ledge. Copyright Brian Skerry.
Cod swim through the kelp forest on Cashes Ledge

 

The beauty, health, and wealth provided by the productivity of New England’s ocean is illustrated in the diversity of ocean and coastal habitat found in the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, southern New England waters, and the far edge of the Outer Continental Shelf. New England’s ocean habitats provide a huge economic service, but only if the underlying ecological foundation is healthy and sustained. Pushing our ocean waters to produce more fish and seafood than is sustainable can lead to a severe decline in goods and services – as we are seeing with the most recent groundfish depletion crisis – or even to an unrecoverable collapse as has happened in eastern Canada.

There are really two major components to a healthy ocean: don’t take out too much in the way of fish and other living resources and don’t put in too much in the way of runoff, nutrients, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants. In New England’s celebrated cod and groundfish fishery we have clearly been taking out too much through decades of overfishing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), at the request of the New England Fishery Management Council, has for years taken the riskiest possible approach to managing fish stocks. NOAA and the Fishery Management Council have set catch limits at the highest levels allowed by law and then shown great surprise when fish stocks fail to recover.

We need NOAA to show proactive leadership by ensuring a more precautionary approach to setting annual catch limits and to rebuilding fish populations. Decades of unsustainable catch levels should not continue to plague New England’s fisheries or our ocean’s health.

The other problem of overfishing is that the methods used to catch fish have gotten more destructive. Since the development of more powerful engines and sonar during World War II, fishing vessels can go farther out to sea, fish in deeper water, and drag heavier bottom trawls. These inventions not only catch a lot more fish, but also cause more damage to ocean bottom habitat – the kelp beds, boulders and rocky fields, tube worms, anemones, sponges, corals, and mussel beds which serve as nurseries and spawning areas. Over decades we are left with cumulative impacts to large areas of New England’s ocean habitat.

This makes the remaining special areas such as Cashes Ledge even more important as a place where small fish can grow and become large enough to reproduce.

In New England, NOAA is headed in reverse on its legal responsibility and the ecological necessity to further protect juvenile groundfish in their nursery grounds. The commercial fishing industry, led by big trawlers, has argued for opening these nursery grounds. Areas of sea bottom that provide essential fish habitat must be protected from destructive fishing practices like trawling and dredging.  For nearly a decade regional fishery managers have failed to take serious action to protect essential fish habitat.  It’s time to make habitat conservation a priority.

The Conservation Law Foundation, our conservation partners, marine scientists, fishermen, and ocean users agree that permanent habitat protection is needed for Cashes Ledge and other special places.

Join our statement to NOAA asking for their leadership. Click here to urge NOAA to protect our ocean beauty, health, and wealth.

 

Cashes Ledge –Taking A Closer Look

Sep 20, 2012 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

Brian Skerry and Luis Lamare get ready to photograph Cashes Ledge on their recent dive. Photograph by Christian Conroy.

What’s so special about Cashes Ledge? In this second of a planned series of dives on this New England biodiversity hotspot, Brian Skerry was joined by marine ecologist, Jon Witman, an expert on Cashes Ledge.  Jon has been studying Cashes Ledge for 35 years, and has been watching how the diversity and abundance of sea life has been changing there, and how it has responded to its current limited-protection status. We talked to him and found out more about why Cashes Ledge is so important to the Gulf of Maine, and what we can do to keep it thriving.

Robin:

Why have you spent so much time on Cashes Ledge?

Jon:

Cashes Ledge is a fascinating and wild offshore place that helps us understand how marine ecosystems tick. It is also a unique storehouse of Atlantic marine biodiversity. Cashes Ledge provides an opportunity to understand why biodiversity matters in an ecological sense. Unfortunately, we are losing marine biodiversity in the world’s oceans faster than we can study it.

Currently, I’m trying to figure out how the whole benthic ecosystem out on Cashes Ledge – from the fish, to the kelp forests and the diverse invertebrates communities have changed over the past decades. I’m particularly interested in how resilient the system is to human disturbance and to climate-related changes in the oceanography.

When we studied Cashes Ledge intensively in the 1980’s, it was like a time machine providing a fleeting glimpse of what New England marine coastal communities might have been like hundreds of years ago, when lots of large predatory fish – especially cod,  were commonplace close to shore. We videotaped over 100 cod an hour going by an area of bottom about the size of a large picnic table on Cashes Ledge, compared to no cod seen at the same depth at coastal sites in the Gulf of Maine.

I actually saw a whale cod as long as a diver and schools of Atlantic bluefin tuna while diving on Cashes Ledge then. There have been substantial reductions of predatory fish since then, which is something I’m studying, but Cashes Ledge is still a vitally rich ecosystem compared to coastal ones that have been more heavily impacted by humans.

 

Red cod and cunner, two of the many species that make Cashes Ledge their home

 

Robin:

What other kinds of interesting animals have you seen on Cashes Ledge?

Jon:

There are layers of marine life on Cashes Ledge, including minke, right, humpback and pilot whales, blue sharks, basking sharks, atlantic white sided dolphins, big schools of bluefin tuna chasing herring, whale cod, red cod, pollock, wolffish, torpedo rays, squid, strange feather stars called crinoids, and unusual sponges and sea squirts typical of sub arctic areas of Scandinavia.

Robin:

Can you talk about the internal waves and why they are important?

Jon:

The top of the ridge on Cashes Ledge is an incredibly dynamic place – layers of plankton in warmer overlying waters are driven right down to the bottom as much as 20 times a day by these phenomena known as internal waves. This is a big deal because the downwelling plankton layers are pulses of concentrated food that sustain bottom dwelling organisms and, in effect, fuel the food web.

We stumbled across this phenomenon in the course of our scuba dives to the top of the ridge at 30 m. One dive team would go down and report that the water on the bottom was cold and beautifully clear but the next team an hour later found pea soup visibility in greenish warm water. This, of course, turned out to be the plankton layer pushed down onto the bottom like a yo-yo by internal waves.

The temperature increase was so large that we could feel the warm water through our drysuits. At that time, the prevailing view of the subtidal zone was that it was a stable place with nearly constant environmental conditions, compared to the rocky intertidal zone. But out on Cashes we were documenting as much as 5 degree centigrade temperature increases in 10 minutes right on the rocky sea floor at 30 m depth.

Internal waves are like a sine wave travelling along the boundary between the warm surface waters and the colder layer below. They can be huge – spanning 50 m vertically in some parts of the world and 30 m high on Cashes.  I’ve seen these downwelling green water waves approaching the ridge on Cashes Ledge while scuba diving and sitting off the ridge in the Johnson Sea Link submersible – it’s one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen underwater.

 

A strong current moves through the Cashes Ledge kelp forest. Cunner swim in the background. 

 

Robin:

What makes Cashes Ledge so unique?

Jon:

There are at least three things make Cashes Ledge so unique. First of all, it is the largest continuous kelp forest in offshore waters on the entire east coast of the US. The kelp grow unusually deep there, beyond  30 m depth. The forest and the ledge itself provide many valuable goods and services to keep the offshore Gulf of Maine ecosystem healthy, vibrant, and productive. For example, it’s a nursery habitat for commercially valuable groundfish. It’s also an energy rich food source for marine life living in habitats both on the ledge and far away from it – in the form of detritus as the kelp breaks down.

Secondly, the Cashes Ledge ecosystem contains a wide range of different bottom types – it isn’t just all rocky ledge. Just like on a mountain slope in the Green or White Mountains in New England, there are cobble and boulder fields on the lower sides of rocky slopes on Cashes Ledge. Deeper down, the sea floor is covered in sand and gravel that grades into soft bottom areas of silt and mud in the basins. So what you have in the Cashes Ledge underwater landscape is a representative collection of most of the major types of bottom habitats found in the Gulf of Maine, but in an incredibly compact area, as ecosystems go.

Each of those different habitat types has its own community of species that do especially well in that particular habitat. For example, there are pink northern shrimp, clams, and tube worms living in the muddy basins at the edge of a boulder field, then communities of soccer ball-sized yellow sponges, bright red sea anemones, and little upright calcified candelabras called bryozoans that look like miniature coral reefs, attached to the boulder tops. Different habitats enhance biodiversity overall. If you sum up all the different species living in each of these different types of habitats from kelp forests to the muddy basins, you have some of the highest biodiversity levels in the Gulf of Maine right on Cashes Ledge.

Finally, as an abrupt topographic high in relatively clear, shallow, sunlit waters, Cashes Ledge is an especially productive offshore ecosystem in the Gulf of Maine. I mentioned the role of the kelp detritus exporting food to adjacent ecosystems, but the dynamic oceanography of the ledge itself also contributes to the productivity of the bottom community in the way that internal waves push concentrated layers of plankton to the top of the ridge.

I think both mechanisms help make Cashes Ledge such a productive area for many species – including groundfish and marine mammals. We’ve seen minke whales feeding in the slicks of internal waves on Cashes Ledge, presumably due to high concentrations of food there.

Robin:

What kind of protection does Cashes Ledge need and why?

Jon:

As special as it is, Cashes Ledge is a very vulnerable marine ecosystem. Right now Cashes Ledge has a small amount of protection from certain types of fishing activity as an Essential Fish Habitat and as a Habitat Area of Special Concern. This is laudable and a real achievement by fisheries managers in New England. However, this protection is only temporary and it could be eliminated at any moment.  It could be opened to fishing practices that further deplete stocks of groundfish, damage biodiverse communities, and decrease the sustainability of the kelp forests.

Because it is such a unique, valuable, and diverse New England marine ecosystem, the rocky ridge, adjacent bottom habitats, and the overlying water column on Cashes Ledge need permanent protection from human impacts. It has been shown many times that marine protected areas help exploited stocks recover and can ensure the sustainability of biodiversity and other goods and services that keep our oceans healthy. We also know that really small protected areas don’t do these jobs very well, so it pays in the long run to preserve larger areas containing different types of habitats.

Globally, we aren’t doing a very good job of protecting the oceans as less than 2% of the worlds oceans are fully protected, despite all the scientific findings showing that marine ecosystems are under ever increasing levels of stress from all sorts of human impacts.

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