Thousand-year-old corals and sponges on the seafloor routinely get wiped out in minutes by destructive bottom trawlers. Hopefully, we're one step closer to making this a problem of the past, as the year 2005 ended on a positive note for deep-sea corals and sponges. The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, led by Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, voted unanimously to include research and protection language in the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act, the law governing U.S. commercial fisheries.
Though this move does not guarantee a bright future for corals and sponges, it is a crucial step toward their protection and Senator Stevens is determined to pass this bill this year. The Magnuson Stevens Act moves next to the full Senate for approval in late January or early February. Contact your members of Congress to set national standards that freeze the footprint of bottom trawling and encourage fishermen to protect sensitive ocean habitat.
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