March 29, 2016 – WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) – This morning, the “Protect New England’s Ocean Treasures Coalition” released an analysis of Northeast ocean areas under consideration for designation as marine National Monuments. The analysis was conducted by Dr. Peter Auster of Mystic Aquarium and Dr. Scott Kraus of the New England Aquarium, and was presented in a press webinar organized by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Dr. Auster and Dr. Kraus concluded, among other findings, that the proposed monument areas possess high habitat diversity and an abundance of species, function as a source of habitats including for commercial species, and contain species sensitive to disturbance. However, they noted that they do not have adequate data to address what the economic and human effects of area closures to fisheries might be. Presenters also acknowledged that the areas under consideration are already protected, but expressed concern about the future possibility of drilling and mining.
A monument designation would likely affect the fisheries for Atlantic red crab, offshore lobster, squid, mackerel, butterfish, tilefish, albacore wahoo, dolphinfish (mahi mahi), and others. Pelagic longline, rod and reel, and greenstick fisheries including yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, and swordfish may also be affected. During the webinar, the presenters conceded that they do not have enough data to analyze how a monument designation would affect many of these fisheries.