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Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 4, 2015 at 2:55 PM

Bering Sea health: Fishing is not a threat

In their guest column “Saving ocean habitat before it’s drained, Opinion, Feb. 1,” the authors suggest that protecting the Bering Sea canyons would help “save the oceans.” While it is true that the oceans are threatened in many ways, the Bering Sea is not threatened by fishing. It is in fact one of the best-managed fisheries in the world, with annual harvests well below scientific advice on what is sustainable.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research has shown there is nothing unique about the flora and fauna of these canyons, and they are not heavily fished. Only about 30 percent of the Bering Sea is impacted by bottom trawling, and the seafloor of the Bering Sea is relatively resilient to trawling.

The real threats are from ocean acidification, global warming, pollution, land-based runoff and unregulated fishing. Closing sections of the Bering Sea to fishing would have no impact on any of these. If the authors must focus on fishing, then they should look to the places in the world where fisheries are poorly regulated.

Ray Hilborn, UW professor School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Comments | More in Fishing | Topics: Bering Sea, climate change, fishing

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