Oceana uses sound science and an open public process to engage policymakers, the press, and the public to change laws and regulations to protect and preserve essential seafloor habitat. Oceana has developed a management approach, called the Oceana Approach, which protects habitat most at risk from bottom trawl damage and provides continued opportunity for commercial bottom trawl fisheries. As such, Oceana and its partners submitted a conservation proposal to the Pacific Fishery Management Council in July 2013 to modify existing conservation areas off the U.S. West Coast and to identify and protect new areas.
How does Oceana determine what areas should be proposed for protections from bottom trawling?
Oceana has identified areas that warrant protection from destructive bottom trawling through the following criteria:
- Areas known to contain habitat features particularly sensitive to bottom trawl impacts, including hard substrate, biogenic habitats, submarine canyons, ridges, banks, escarpments, and/or other exceptional features;
- Areas with high regional coral and/or sponge bycatch;
- Areas within and/or adjacent to the current year-round closed portion of the groundfish trawl Rockfish Conservation Area (Trawl RCA) containing ecologically important and/or sensitive habitats important to overfished species and target species, so that these areas remain protected, as bycatch-related spatial protections are lifted;
- Areas that improve the overall representation of habitat types contained in Essential Fish Habitat Conservation Areas in regional and coastwide contexts;
- Areas that are adjacent to newly designated marine protected areas;
- Areas that increase the overall level of protection for sensitive habitat types within each of the five west coast National Marine Sanctuaries;
- Areas that are currently subject to very low or no trawl effort that may contain sensitive habitats.