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Fishery managers could call for a review of massive underwater canyons by Juliet Eilperin April 03,2012   |  Source: Washington Post

Fishery managers in the North Pacific are expected Tuesday to endorse a reassessment of how to treat two large underwater canyons in Alaska’s Bering Sea that lie near one of the nation’s most profitable fisheries.

The move comes less than two weeks after scientists published new evidence that the region boasts significant deep-sea corals, sponges and other marine life. Environmentalists and some researchers have argued that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council should place part of the canyons off limits to fishing because little is known about them.

The Zhemchug and Pribilof canyons — two of the world’s largest, plunging more than a mile deep — are carved into the edge of the southeastern Bering Sea’s continental shelf.

Under federal law, regional fisheries councils — such as the one in the North Pacific — can set specific catch quotas or prohibit fishing in certain areas, subject to approval by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Action by the council could have implications for how the nation’s commercially valuable pollock and Pacific cod fisheries are managed.

Bill Tweit, a member of the management council, said in an interview that the group is seeking “the best scientific understanding” of what function the two

 

© 1996-2012 The Washington Post

Theme(s): Fisheries Resources.

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