December 6, 2012
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch … Sea lions, bycatch, now corals –oh my! What’s up with that after this –
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Many of Alaska’s fisheries have been booted out of areas to avoid Steller sea lions, various bycatch – now corals loom as a red flag for traditional fishing grounds. Kodiak fishery advisor Denby Lloyd —
Cut: I and a number of industry observers see this as having the same potential in out years as stellar sea lions initially had in the early nineties where it was speculative, and a side issue that soon became an extremely major issue and had dramatic impacts on the fishery. The fact that these corals, they’re in the Bering Sea canyons, they’re in the Aleutian Islands, they’re in the gulf sea mounts, they’re in a variety of areas that as yet have not had much restriction of fishing activities other than some essential fish habitat declared out in the Aleutians. 3
Alaska corals don’t form reefs like tropical varieties – instead they grow into dense gardens and can live for hundreds of years. The waters surrounding the Aleutian Islands are believed to harbor the most abundant and diverse cold water corals in the world. Protecting them has been added to the North Pacific Council’s agenda –
Cut: And this has great potential in the future to affect a lot of fisheries in the Gulf and in the Bering Sea and in the Aleutian Islands. And that is a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity to have the federal government list cold water deep sea corals as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. 4
Scientists point to climate changes and ocean acidification as the biggest threats to cold water corals, Lloyd said – but as usual, fishing would bear the brunt of any restrictions.
Cut: The only thing other than climate change that the federal government could control would be fishing activity. And it’s very similar to the results of the Fish and Wildlife service having declared polar bears as threatened. The cause of that was labeled as climate change, but the only thing that could be controlled was immediate human activity and therefore hunting and import of trophies and things like that for polar bears were the way the federal government exerted control. In this case it’s probably going to be fishing activity that is going to be the outlet for control if corals are declared threatened or endangered.
Thanks to the assist from KMXT/Kodiak. (www.kmxt.org)
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.