Huge tracts of delicate coral gardens and soft-coral forests off the coast of Alaska will be permanently protected from fishing gear that targets groundfish and shellfish by scraping the seafloor.
Most of the affected sites have never been disturbed by this gear. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on June 28 announced its new rule to preserve that situation, which will take effect July 28. The rules don't address nets or long-line fishing practices that don't disturb the sea bottom.
The largest area to be protected, off the Aleutian Islands, covers 279,000 square nautical miles, an expanse the size of Texas and Colorado combined. Some sites were chosen to protect rockf