Protecting Ocean Ecosystems

New England’s Protected Waters are Threatened

Bottom trawling destroys habitat. Large swaths of New England's protected waters are now at risk. Photo credit: Brian Skerry

Parts of New England’s waters set aside to protect cod, haddock, flounder, and other important fish could soon be subjected to some of the most damaging forms of large-scale fishing. After populations collapsed in the early 1990s, these “groundfish closed areas” were set up to protect juvenile fish, spawning areas, and seafloor habitat. Now, under pressure from the fishing industry, the New England Fishery Management Council has voted to let bottom trawling and dredging return to more than half of these areas. Federal fisheries officials are now considering the council’s measure. A total of more than 5,000 sq. miles of seafloor—roughly equal to the size of Connecticut—is at risk of serious ecological setback. Decades of recovery could be rapidly erased.

Move your cursor around this interactive map and follow the links to learn more about what’s at risk.

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