It’s official – and unanimous. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to protect from bottom trawling some 180,000 square miles of previously unexploited ocean floor in the Bering Sea, particularly in the North.
The area is home to 26 species of marine mammals, including whales and walruses, as well as 450 species of fish and million of seabirds that flock to region from all seven continents. This is a great victory for the oceans and Oceana, too, since the Council opted for Alternative 2, advocated by Oceana and others to essentially “freeze the footprint” on bottom trawling, allowing trawlers to continue operations in areas where trawling currently occurs and establishing a boundary so they cannot cause further damage to the ocean-floor habitats.
The victory comes roughly two years after Oceana’s campaigning in North America helped lead to a vote by the Council to protect vibrant coral gardens in the Aleutian Islands. Protecting the Bering Sea means protecting essential and vibrant habitat.