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Sign the Petition to

North Pacific Fishery Management Council

With this letter we join with hundreds of thousands of individuals who have, over the course of more than a decade, implored you to protect the essential fish habitat in the Bering Sea Canyons.

Last year the Council received a report on the Bering Sea Canyons from NOAA scientists validating the presence of vulnerable coral and sponge habitat in Zhemchug and Pribilof Canyons. The report identifies the shelf break and associated canyons - the "Green Belt"- as containing a large portion of the coral habitat that exists in the entire Bering Sea.

We understand that the Council declared the Bering Sea canyons a high priority research item in 2006, and we appreciate the effort finally under way by NOAA scientists to increase the research record on the canyons and shelf-break, with field work scheduled in the summer of 2014. There will always be more to learn, and policy decisions will, as they always have, benefit from the best available science at the time. Enough is known now, though, to act to protect these crucial habitat areas.

Until the process to implement management measures for the canyons is completed important areas that have been identified remain vulnerable, putting at risk long-lived species that provide essential habitat for commercially important fish and other marine life in this complex ecosystem. We encourage the Council to make needed progress at this Council meeting by moving to develop alternatives immediately, considering all stakeholder input, to best protect this habitat while maintaining fishing opportunities that ultimately support productive fisheries.

Signed,

Greenpeace

This petition closed almost 4 years ago

How this will help

Everything is connected, and nowhere is that more true than in the ocean. The world's ocean is responsible for regulating temperature and climate across the globe. Every second breath of oxygen we...

Everything is connected, and nowhere is that more true than in the ocean. The world's ocean is responsible for regulating temperature and climate across the globe. Every second breath of oxygen we take on land began with photosynthesizing organisms in some healthy ocean space.

In the Bering Sea - where the US catches more fish than anywhere else – long lived coral and sponge communities provide fish and marine life with shelter and nurseries, feeding and spawning grounds. Industrial fishing gear now reaches these once-safe far away depths in their search of ever more fish sticks to feed the world. When coral and sponge habitat that has formed over hundreds of years are uprooted or crushed by heavy fishing gear – we expect there is a price being paid deep in ocean. Fish need nurseries, refuges, and spawning grounds if they are to grow up and swim into the mouths of Fur seals, albatross, and fishermen's nets. It's all connected.

Northern fur seal populations have been steadily declining in the region for decades, without rebound. Indigenous Aleut communities bordering the Bering Sea face ever greater difficulty locating their subsistence foods, once plentiful and close to shore.

We have learned the hard way that the ocean is not inexhaustible. The majority of large fish have been fished out of the sea. The impacts of climate change are being felt in the ocean and scientists don't yet know what the full consequences will be.

We must take a precautionary approach and set aside representative portions of critical habitat – such as in the Bering Sea Canyons – as an insurance policy for our future.

Help today by signing our petition to create protections for the Bering Sea Canyons.  Fishery managers need to hear from people who want to see our fisheries and our ocean protected, and not just exploited for their short term bounty. The future depends on it.

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