The environmental group Oceana will send a high-definition camera into the ocean off Oregon today.
The group plans to collect underwater video footage using a remote-operated vehicle over the course of seven days. The videos will be used to make the case for closing more ocean habitat to bottom trawl fishing.
Bottom trawl boats drag weighted nets across the sea floor to catch groundfish. Some areas off the West Coast are already closed to this kind of fishing to prevent damage to fragile fish habitat such as coral reefs. Regional fishery managers are reviewing whether more restrictions are needed.
Oceana has proposed closing additional areas in more than a dozen places off the Oregon and Washington coasts.
“What we’re trying to do is identify the most sensitive habitats and keep the bottom trawls out of there,” said Oceana scientist Ben Enticknap.
Brad Pettinger of the Oregon Trawl Commission says the fishing industry has already taken measures to protect the marine environment and will likely oppose additional restrictions. The Pacific Fishery Management Council will consider proposals for new fishing area closures in November.