Sign the Petition to

John K. Bullard, NOAA Regional Administrator Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and associated alternatives for the Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2 (EFH). I am writing to urge you to take action on four issues.

First, I urge you to approve Option B: Preferred Alternative – Northern Reference Area within the Stellwagen Dedicated Habitat Research Area. This would essentially create a No Take Zone for both commercial and recreational fishermen – a first for the entire Gulf of Maine. Option B will lead to new ecological knowledge informed by fishermen resulting in more responsible stewardship of essential habitats for groundfish including cod, haddock, pollock and hake.

Second, I urge you to add protections for the spawning and nursery habitats of Atlantic herring, river herring, shad, menhaden, and other forage fish that serve as prey for managed species. The EHF amendment does not consider the potential harmful effects that the loss of this prey or disturbance its habitat might have on commercially valuable fish.

Third, I request that the Council complete development of an alternative to the status quo, which would encompass an area along the northern edge of Georges Bank. One of America’s most far flung ocean ecosystems, it is relatively pristine compared with ecosystems closer to shore. This is an area where massive shoals of Atlantic herring spawn, historically 250 million herring. Herring may spawn at many different times of the year. The eggs adhere to the bottom. This habitat area of particular concern also provides nursery habitat for many commercially valuable fish stocks. Opening up this area to otter trawls, clam dredges, and mid-water herring trawls would be destructive of herring stocks and would negatively impact fish stocks harvested closer to shore.

Fourth, I urge you to put deep sea corals back into this Amendment. NOAA’s Henry S. Bigelow surveyed and collected samples from areas in the northern Gulf of Maine, where deep sea corals were found on canyon walls below 600 feet deep. Redfish were frequently seen with specific deep sea corals. Also observed with deep sea corals were skate and hake.

Protecting ocean ecosystems is a vital part of maintaining productive and resilient marine ecosystems. This Essential Fish Habitat Amendment, long in the works, will better protect and improve the Gulf of Maine and George’s Banks for more fish.

Signed,

Ocean River Institute

This petition closed over 4 years ago

How this will help

The New England Fishery Management Council is undertaking a public process to improve protection of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for groundfish (cod, haddock, pollock, hake, etc.).  As part of...

The New England Fishery Management Council is undertaking a public process to improve protection of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for groundfish (cod, haddock, pollock, hake, etc.).  As part of this process, the Council voted 12 to 2 to select the Stellwagen Dedicated Habitat Research Area with a Northern Reference Area as a preferred alternative in its Draft Omnibus EFH Amendment 2.

Join with us in clarion calls for 4 alternatives to the Fisheries Council's Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2 in the Gulf of Maine.

◊ Protect deep sea corals;

◊ Protect forage fish, including Atlantic herring, river herring, and shad;

◊ Protect the northern edge of Georges Bank groundfish and scallops;

◊ Create a No Take Zone called the Northern Reference Area, about 1/6 of the Stellwagen Dedicated Habitat Research Area, which lies in about one third of the Western Gulf of Maine Closure Area.

Protecting essential fish habitat is a vital part of maintaining productive and resilient marine ecosystems. This EFH amendment offers New England a long-awaited opportunity to improve its ocean habitat protection.

By listening to and carefully considering information brought forward through the public comment period, more robust and inclusive solutions will be found. We want responsible stewardship for healthier ocean places and 100% sustainably fished fish stocks.

Join with us in speaking out for essential fish habitats in the Gulf of Maine.

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