An advisory panel has voted to ban bottom trawling in 180,000 square miles of the North Bering Sea. Bottom trawling can have a terrible impact on sea life, as we have covered before on TreeHugger, "Bottom trawling involves dragging huge nets along the ocean floor, with up to fifteen tonnes of weights attached. It can scrape up and destroy coral reefs that take many years to grow, and also throw up large clouds of sand from the sea bed which affect fish."
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council made the unanimous decision on Sunday, and the matter will now be passed to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Susan Murray from the Oceana group, said, "With global warming and a growing world population, oceans are under more stress than ever and it would be irresponsible to add a preventable manmade threat to the fragile northern Bering Sea ecosystem. This decision protects the walrus, spectacled eider and numerous other marine animals that rely on a healthy seafloor in order to live. It also helps protect the subsistence way of life for coastal villages." The area that falls under the new ban is the natural habitat for the endangered spectacled eiders, and also is on the migration route for Gray whales and endangered bowhead and humpback whales. David Benton, executive director of the Marine Conservation Alliance, said, "It's another precautionary step to make sure we have sustainable fisheries in Alaska. The council did some things we think are real important." :: ENN