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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,
This important information just came in and I am sharing it with you.


National Academy of Sciences Releases Report on Trawling Impacts;
Recreational Fishing Alliance Joins With Environmental and Commercial
Fishing Groups in Support of New Bill to Stop Demolition Fishing

Washington, DC - A study released on March 18th by the National Academy of
Sciences is the most ****ing evidence yet that "rockhopper" trawling gear is
destroying essential fish habitat and killing scores of marine animals.

In light of this report, Congressman Joel Hefley (R-CO) is announcing on
Tuesday, March 19th that he will introduce the Ocean Habitat Protection Act.

The legislation will limit the size of rollers used on trawl gear to no more
than 8" in diameter. Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Pat Moran
(D-VA), Jim Greenwood (R-PA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Mike Castle (R-DE) are
co-sponsors of the legislation.

"As an avid fisherman, I have strong concerns about the future of fishing
and the devastating effects of mobile fishing gear," said Congressman Joel
Hefley. "The ocean environment is a diverse and beautiful home to coral
beds, sea grasses and fish species that are needlessly being destroyed by large
roller and rockhopper gear. Under the Ocean Habitat Protection Act, the size
of ground gear used on bottom trawls will be limited, reducing the impact of
trawling on seafloor habitat."

Roller and rockhopper gear are heavy rubber disks than can exceed 30" in
diameter. They are often used with heavy weights on the footrope of trawl
nets that keep the net on the bottom. Trawls armed with big rollers or
rockhoppers can be used on rough bottoms that trawlers formerly avoided for
fear of becoming entangled on coral and rocky habitats. Thus rocky bottoms
were a kind of refuge from trawling until the 1980s and '90s, when the use
of roller and rockhopper gear became widespread. The decline of America's
fisheries has increased since rollers and rockhoppers were introduced.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance joins a coalition of environmental and
commercial fishing organizations including the American Oceans Campaign,
Marine Conservation Biology Institute, and West Coast Fisherman's Alliance,
in supporting this legislation.

James A. Donofrio, Executive Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance,
states, "Rockhopper gear is quickly pulverizing ancient ocean bottom
structures that took eons to form, and under normal conditions would stand
for centuries to come."

"The use of rockhopper and roller gear is destroying some of our most
precious and vital fish habitats," said Phil Kline, Fisheries Program
Director for American Oceans Campaign. "There are other methods of catching
fish that don't destroy the very habitats our fish depend on for survival.
It's time to stop this kind of wasteful, destructive, demolition fishing."

Trawling Release - Page 2
"I'm not only a marine biologist; I eat fish that commercial fishermen
catch, and I'm a sportfisherman, too," said Dr. Elliott Norse, President of Marine
Conservation Biology Institute, a scientific and conservation group. "But
I'm not willing to eat any seafood if catching it destroys the environment.
I want to know that fishes and corals and the rest of the sea's biodiversity
will be there when my grandchildren are growing up. But trawling with
rockhopper and roller gear is eliminating the last places where fishes can
hide. Congressman Hefley's bill won't stop everything that's harming our
fisheries, but it's an essential first step. I applaud Mr. Hefley and his
co-sponsors for doing something to protect our marine life."

"Until now, few Americans have known how harmful bottom trawling can be,"
said John Warner of the Oregon-based West Coast Fishermen's Alliance. "Now
scientists have told our nation why our fisheries are headed downward.
Trawlers are bulldozing and destroying life on the sea floor. They're
killing the corals and sponges that provide refuge for young
commercially-important fish. The Ocean Habitat Protection Act will help to
protect the ocean from this awful practice and help America restore its
declining fisheries."

"The continuing use of rockhopper gear is one of the worst examples of
short-term thinking when it comes to our nations fisheries. The time for it
to be permanently removed from the oceans is here and the members of the RFA
gladly offer their support for this bill and we thank the sponsors for
championing this legislation." Added Michael Doebley, Legislative Director
for the RFA.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance ( is a national,
nonprofit political action group representing the interests of over 70,000
conservation-minded saltwater anglers, fishing clubs,
marine manufacturers, and retailers at the local, state, and federal level.
RFA is based in New Gretna, New Jersey.

American Oceans Campaign ( is a national nonprofit
organization dedicated to safeguarding the vitality of the nation's oceans
and coastal waters. AOC is joining forces with Oceana ( to
protect the world's oceans. The new organization resulting from this merger
will be called Oceana. Oceana will bring together dedicated people from
around the world to build an international movement to save the oceans
through public policy advocacy, science and economics, legal action,
grassroots mobilization and public education. Oceana is headquartered in
Washington, D.C.

Marine Conservation Biology Institute ( is a nonprofit
organization dedicated to advancing the science of marine conservation
biology and promoting cooperation essential to protecting and restoring the
Earth's biological integrity. MCBI is headquartered in Redmond, Washington,
with a policy office in Washington, D.C.

The West Coast Fishermen's Alliance is a group of small-boat fishermen and
their families who are working at the local, state and federal level to
promote sustainable fisheries on the West Coast through measures that reduce
bycatch and stop habitat destruction. WCFA is based in Coos Bay, Oregon.
TUESDAY, MARCH 19th, 2002

Study Urges Trawling Ban in Fragile Marine Habitats
Fisheries: A practice likened to 'clear-cutting' the oceans needs to use
less damaging gear, federal researchers say.

Dragging nets along the ocean floor, a widely used method of commercial
fishing, causes such devastation to sea life that the practice should be
banned from areas with fragile marine habitat, federal researchers concluded

A report released by the National Academy of Sciences points out numerous
areas of concern along the Pacific Coast, the North Atlantic, the Gulf
coasts and waters around Alaska.

It also recommends that the federal government reduce bottom trawling, as
the practice is called, and require trawlers to modify their gear to minimize
damage. The study, requested by the National Marine Fisheries Service, was
applauded by some fishing and environmental groups that liken bottom
trawling to chain sawing forests as a way to hunt for deer.

"This is clear-cutting the oceans, but because it happens out of sight and
out of mind, nobody pays any attention to it," said Elliott Norse, president
of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Redmond, Wash. "So this
[report] is huge. The National Academy of Sciences has outed the issue and
now it will finally be dealt with."

The marine fisheries service, which manages commercial fishing, said the
scientific recommendations come at a key time: when its fisheries management
councils are preparing studies on the best protection for critical ocean
habitat in five different regions.

Rebecca Lent, the fisheries service deputy director, said the report
underscored a critical point: "We need to reduce fishing efforts because we
have too many boats chasing too few fish."

Moreover, she said, the report pointed out the need for better mapping of
essential habitat so federal officials know which areas of sea floor to

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of Congress members, frustrated by the slow
pace of reform, is set to introduce legislation today to restrict bottom

The proposed Ocean Habitat Protection Act would ban fishing trawlers from
using large rollers and "rock-hopping" wheels that allow their nets to
bounce through rocky terrain without getting snagged.

It is this multilayered sea floor that is most susceptible to long-term
damage, as weighted nets pulverize coral, sponges, sea grass and rocks used
as feeding grounds and hiding places for juvenile fish.

"As an avid fisherman," said Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), "I have strong
concerns about the future of fishing and the devastating effects of mobile
fishing gear."

The legislation has brought together support from environmental groups such
as the American Oceans Campaign as well as the recreational fishing lobby.
Recreational anglers blame commercial trawling for ruining fishing for
everyone else.

"This gear is destructive," said Michael Doebley of the Recreational Fishing
Alliance, which represents 70,000 anglers.

Yet the commercial fishing lobby opposes the idea, as well as any other
restrictions that would cut into the supply of seafood for American

"Rather than wasting time on frivolous legislation or litigation," said Rod
Moore of the National Fisheries Institute, he suggested everyone follow just
one of the recommendations made in the report--to have "scientists and the
seafood industry work together more effectively."

The report, written by the academy's National Research Council, examined the
ecological impacts of trawl nets used to snare cod in Alaskan waters, and
shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Pacific Coast. The report also
scrutinized the effects of steel-teeth dredges that scoop up scallops and
oysters in New England and off the mid-Atlantic states.

Bottom trawling has been around for decades, sweeping across soft, sandy
ocean bottom for flounder, haddock, shellfish and shrimp. Only since the
1980s, however, have trawl boats equipped their nets with rollers allowing
them to scour deep, uneven terrain that functions as fish nurseries.

The disturbance to the ocean bottom varies widely, as does its recovery
time, according to the report. The report says that besides scraping away
cold-water coral, sponges and various plants, a single pass of a trawl wipes
out 68% of sea anemones and 21% of starfish. Repeated passes, the report
maintains, results in a 93% reduction in these bottom-dwelling creatures.

California has set some restrictions on bottom trawling in waters within
three miles of shore. Georges Bank off the coast of Maine has closed some
areas to help them recover, and the Dry Tortugas marine reserve off the tip
of Florida has also banned bottom trawling.

Generally, though, the ocean is wide open to trawls, researchers noted,
concluding that "closed areas are necessary to protect a range of
vulnerable, representative habitats."

"Crazy" Alberto
[email protected]

· Registered
2,401 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, it?s unfortunate that we are finally doing something about it!

However, this is just one of the reasons why I am a proud member of the RFA (Recreational Fishing Alliances) and it shows that my membership fee is being well spent! In addition, much kudos goes to the organization that are following the path and stopping this horrific and very destructive gear.

I know this has been in the works for the longest time and that our fruit of labor is finally coming to fruition!

Aside from the global issues, this hits home - For many years this destructive method was practiced throughout the NJ waters until it destroyed most of its habitats?. Now they are in OUR waters raping our resources and destroying our wrecks, reefs and other structural habitats of no return. Unfortunately, it is all due to the increased live market demand, greed and the mighty dollar!

With the support of our said organizations, this is one monumental step to save our fishery?s nesting and to preserve many of our bottom dwellers such as blackfish, seabass, fluke, codfish, porgies and even the stripers.

This is a great thing and I thank them for taking the necessary steps to better our fishing future!

"Crazy" Alberto
[email protected]
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