Monterey Bay's Sea Floor Is Resilient, New Report Finds
September 17, 2012
Monterey Bay's sea floor is home to thousands of cold-water coral colonies, and federal rules protecting fish habitats from bottom trawling are giving habitats a chance to recover. Those are some of the findings in a new report, released Sept. 14 by the nonprofit Oceana.
Oceana partnered with SeaLife Conservation to deploy remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, from the 65-foot research sailboat the Derek M. Baylis in 2010 and 2011. The expeditions explored 17 sites from Davenport to Point Lobos, ranging from 70 to 620 feet deep. CSU Monterey Bay scientists helped analyze the resulting footage of Monterey Bay shale-bed habitat.
That footage is featured in Oceana's 11-minute video, "Fathoms Deep: Protecting the Seafloor," narrated by Alexandra Cousteau. (Above photo courtesy Oceana.)
The report was submitted to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which is considering revisions to federal management of marine protected areas. At issue is bottom trawling, in which fishing boats drag weighted nets along the sea floor—a practice marine environmentalists liken to clear-cutting.
The California legislature banned bottom trawling in 2004, and two years later federal fisheries managers designated a series of fish habitat conservation areas which come under review every five years. Oceana is lobbying to keep the protections in place.
“From massive pinnacles to deep canyon walls, Monterey Bay’s seafloor habitats rival the visual beauty and ecological importance of tropical coral reefs,” stated Geoff Shester, Oceana’s California program director, in a press release. “Current management protections were put in place for good reason and should be maintained.”