Located in the North Pacific between Alaska and far east Russia, the Bering Sea is home to ocean albatross and kittiwakes, orcas, walrus and fur seals, king crab, squid, and salmon. Beneath the surface are massive canyons where deep sea corals thrive and support a near endless variety of life. But the Bering Sea’s beautiful and carefully-balanced marine environments are in danger, threatened by industrial fishing that is depleting the region’s resources and risking destruction of this Hope Spot. Mission Blue and Greenpeace are both urging the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to protect these canyons.
We can protect this ecosystem for future generations through the creation of Marine Protected Areas – including fully protected marine reserves – that restrict fishing gear that damages vital habitat.
Over a billion dollars of seafood - mostly pollock, but other species as well - is harvested in the Bering Sea each year. Zhemchug and Pribliof Canyons – the largest underwater canyons in the world - are carved into the Green Belt zone along the shelf break where they fuel high productivity and provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife. Despite the ecological and economic importance of this stretch of ocean, the increasing threat of climate change, and the uncertainty involved in managing these fisheries, there are no areas protected from fishing along the entire shelf break. That must change. Given how little we understand about deep sea ecosystems or the connections between seafloor habitats and commercially important species, it is extremely risky not to set aside representative portions of the shelf break as a buffer against uncertainty.