From Cape Cod to Georges Bank to the Gulf of Maine, New England’s ocean is home to a remarkable array of plant life and wildlife – some familiar to us, but many not.

The health of our ocean is intertwined with that of our fisheries and our coastal economies – and today, both are at risk.

That’s why CLF is working to protect special ocean places, especially those that are most critical and fragile – also known as important ecological areas. Identified by scientists as at risk of being lost forever, Cashes Ledge, Jeffreys Ledge, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Jordan Basin, and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts are outstanding examples of what makes New England’s ocean so unique.

Rich in ocean wildlife, these areas are key to maintaining productive fish stocks – today and for future generations of fishing families. They also serve as ideal refuges for rare, threatened, and endangered species, such as North Atlantic Right Whales, thanks to their unique geological features, including deep canyons.

These special places are increasingly vulnerable to overfishing, industrial exploration, and climate change. They are irreplaceable – and they are CLF’s highest priority for protection.

In protecting such habitats, we want to do more than preserve biodiversity and ensure the future of our fisheries. Protected areas also serve as valuable undersea laboratories for scientists, whose research will help us respond and adapt to the impacts of warming oceans and sea level rise.

We are currently working at two levels to protect New England’s special ocean places. We advocate at the New England Fishery Management Council to maintain current closures of vulnerable habitats to allow threatened groundfish – including Atlantic cod – time to recover from severe depletion due to overfishing.

We also worked with a coalition of partners to urge the Obama Administration to designate the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts as the first Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean – and we plan on doing the same for Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine.