Victory | March 9, 2023
Deep-Sea Corals and Seafloor Habitats Protected in U.S. Pacific Waters
In the United States, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to reopen more than 4,500 square miles of Southern California ocean waters to recreational and non-trawl commercial gear used to catch groundfish while also permanently protecting more than 600 square miles of habitat including almost half of the area’s known deep-sea corals. These areas include coral and sponge ecosystems discovered by Oceana during a 2016 scientific expedition. The entire area remains closed to bottom trawling. This victory is a win-win for fishing communities and ocean biodiversity and is the result of a unique collaboration between recreational and commercial fishermen, Oceana, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who worked together to design the new conservation areas. The council also voted to protect five ecologically important areas off the Oregon coast from all forms of fishing gear used to catch groundfish and known to harm seafloor habitats, including bottom longlines and pots. These five areas, which total 182 square miles, are already protected from bottom trawling, and will now receive an additional layer of protection with this action.