Seattle, Shatner & Saving the Bering Sea

February 7, 2014

A humpback whale is breeching in the Gulf of Alaska during the Greenpeace USA Bering Sea expedition.

© Todd Warshaw / Greenpeace

There's a big meeting going on in Seattle right now, that can decide whether or not to protect the home of humpback whales, octopus, puffins, seals and tons of other amazing sea life in the Bering Sea. These waters are so special that even William Shatner spoke up to urge for their protection.

The hosts of this meeting, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, held an important Bering Sea Canyons Workshop to bring stakeholders from the fishing industry, conservation groups, and the public together with NOAA fishery scientists to discuss options for protecting threatened habitat in canyons. Corals and sponges on the floor of the canyons - some many hundreds of years old - provide essential habitat thats integral to the health of this complex ecosystem. When commercial fishing gear makes contact with the seabed though, these animals are easily destroyed and lost forever. No corals and sponges means nowhere for many fish to lay their eggs, forage for food or find shelter. The whole ecosystem then suffers.

Seattle_Eco_Infographic

In my experience with the NPFMC, Ive never seen a room so packed as this workshop! I arrived early and even then there was standing room only.The question of what to do to protect the Bering Sea canyons has a lot of people interested - from the factory trawlers that will scoop more than 1.2 million metric tons of pollock (raw material for fish sticks) from these waters this year, to indigenous communities who depend on the Bering Sea for their subsistence way of life

Greenpeace and our allies have been working on protecting the invaluable habitat found in the Bering Sea for over a decade, and this meeting showed how perseverance and consistent pressure can create momentum for progress. Setting aside representative portions of canyon and shelf-break habitat, to provide shelter and breeding grounds for hundreds of species, is needed as an insurance policy for the ecosystem and the major fisheries dependant on them. Until this happens, well continue to need your support.

Find out more about the amazing Bering Sea Canyons and how we can protect them here.

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