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Washington, D.C. July 7, 2020 — A new report from the Center for American Progress shows that fishery managers rarely take necessary measures to protect the very habitat they designate as “essential,” leaving the commercial fishing industry to regulate itself in ways that aren’t working.

As the Trump administration takes steps to roll back existing ocean protections, fisheries and sensitive ocean habitats are increasingly at risk of damage. While regional fishery management councils and states have the power to protect ocean habitat, the report found that 75 percent of the protections that are in place are “minimal,” resulting in little habitat protection.

Without significant changes to the law or its application, these protected areas are not likely to be an adequate substitute for a more geographically representative and comprehensive system of marine protected areas (MPAs).

The report finds that nearshore habitats in state waters in every region should be protected by the states that oversee them in concert with protected in federal waters, including fishing-restrictive essential fish habitat (EFH) and marine protected areas.

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“As the effects of climate change and COVID-19 continue to damage coastal communities and seafood supply chains, expanding and strengthening a diverse and broad network of place-based protections will help fish stocks and ocean ecosystems weather the current and coming storms,” said Alexandra Carter, policy analyst for Ocean Policy at CAP.

Read the report: “How To Reform and Strengthen Fishery Habitat Protection” by Alexandra CarterMargaret Cooney, Sung Chung, Carlos Rivero Lopez, and Miriam Goldstein.