We Are All Bering Sea Stakeholders – Part 1
by Amber Smith
Home to the largest underwater canyons on the planet, the Bering Sea provides about 50% of seafood consumed in the U.S. The Grand Canyons of the Bering Sea, as we know them, are an oasis of corals and sponges that provide essential habitat for fish in the Bering Sea. Unfortunately, the commercial fishing industry poses threats to this habitat by using fishing methods that systematically destroy corals and sponges, some that may have taken upwards of 900 years to grow! By collectively letting the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council know that canyons habitat should be protected in order to have a sustainable ecosystem and a sustainable fishing economy, we can save the Bering Sea Canyons! My work since joining Greenpeace last year has mostly involved talking to everyday people about the dangers of habitat destruction in America's fish basket, the Bering Sea. This is the first in a series of blog posts written by the concerned people of Seattle, Washington, epicenter of the Bering Sea commercial fishing industry. In the words of Seattle Central Community College Oceanography student Adam Arroyo, here is why he is supportive of protections for the incredible habitat found in the canyons: "My name is Adam Arroyo. Currently I am an Oceanography student. I began my sea career as a sailor in the US Navy in 2007 and served 4 years on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Afterwards I would find myself as a deckhand on a research vessel doing hydro-graphic surveys. As with many of my fisherman brothers, I find my work site at the sea. It troubles me when companies neglect prudent seamanship in pursuit of less than 4% of their annual haul. Personnel on board ships coexist with the canyon habitat. Yet benthic canyon habitats are full of precious creatures found nowhere else in the world. When vessels operate in these areas, nets catch indiscriminately both intended species and unfortunate bycatch. As a society, when we have learned that some special places are sacred, we protect them for future generations to enjoy. Catching fish with no regard to canyon habitat could lead to irreversible destruction, corals could take hundreds of years to regrow if at all. Please place hauling restrictions in the Bering Sea canyons NOW! This precious environment cannot wait any longer for the council to act. " Adam is not the only person who will be raising his voice at the upcoming Seattle North Pacific Fisheries Management Council the first week of February. Check back next week to hear other voices explain why they believe protections for the canyons are necessary and why we are all stakeholders when it comes to the Bering Sea Canyons.