Oceana works for concrete policy changes that will limit or prohibit bottom trawling in areas known or suspected to contain deep-sea corals and sponges in federal waters off the Northeast and Southeast, Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico.
Our key tools are advocacy to educate policymakers, public pressure to help persuade policymakers, and public education and media efforts to increase public awareness of the threat to deep-sea corals.
Specifically, Oceana is "freezing the footprint" of bottom trawls and dredges in a precautionary way by recommending that fishery managers do the following:
- Identify and map coral communities and other important habitats so they can be placed off-limits to bottom trawling.
- Close currently trawled areas with known concentrations of corals and sponges.
- Strengthen enforcement and establish penalties severe enough to prevent deliberate destruction of corals and illegal fishing in areas already closed to trawling.
- Prohibit any expansion of trawling into currently untrawled areas likely to have coral or sponge communities.
- Require modification to trawl gear so that trawling in coral habitat is no longer possible.
- Set absolute limits or "hard caps" on the amount of coral and sponge that can be removed by bottom tending mobile fishing gear. Once hard caps are reached, close the fishery to prevent further destruction.
Oceana and our partner organizations are working at both the regional and federal levels to make progress on prohibiting bottom trawling. We will:
- Testify and present information to the all U.S. regional fishery management councils.
- Visit U.S. Congressional offices to distribute educational materials about the value of deep-sea corals.
- Testify at Congressional hearings on deep-sea coral protection.
- Continue to advocate for appropriate rulemaking at the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Council on Environmental Quality and the White House.