Atlantic Marine Reserve Proposed, ENS, 11/20/06
Source: Environment News Service
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - The Conservation Law Foundation and World Wildlife Fund-Canada today issued a report recommending that marine reserves be created in about 20 percent of the ocean from Cape Cod to Eastern Canada's Scotian Shelf, and extending 10 to 200 miles from the coast.
Several of New England's most lucrative fishing areas would be encompassed within the boundaries of the proposed reserves.
"Our goal is to protect biodiversity for the future," said John Crawford, senior scientist at Conservation Law Foundation and director of the group's Initiative on Marine Ecosystem Conservation.
Presidential or Congressional authorization would be required to establish marine protected areas in federal waters.
The groups say protected areas would prohibit most commercial fishing, sand and gravel mining, and oil and gas drilling, and may require ships to slow dowm in areas frequented by the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.
In writing their report, CLF and WWF-Canada scientists relied on government data on the life cycles, habitats, and populations of fish, whales, and other marine organisms.
The groups reviewed patterns of seawater temperature, salinity, depth, and seafloor ecology. They used a computer program to pinpoint the areas that protected the most species and habitats in the most efficient way so the least amount of ocean would need to be restricted.
The 20 percent goal for protected areas was recommended in a scientific report by the U.S. National Research Council.
Commercial fisherman say they are not opposed to protected areas, but they want to ensure that enough of the ocean is accessible to them so that they can make a living.
The groups say their goal is to have as little human disturbance as possible in each protected area.