underwater fish and animals

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Gulf of Mexico Ocean Conservation

Ocean Health in the Gulf of Mexico

Preserving the natural diversity of ocean ecosystems will help ensure abundant fish, bountiful seafood, and recreational opportunities for generations to come. 

 

The Gulf of Mexico is an environmental and economic treasure. Within its 600,000 square miles lie natural wonders and habitats ranging from an underwater Grand Canyon 12,000 feet deep to coral reefs and one of the largest contiguous seagrass beds in the Northern Hemisphere. As the world’s ninth-largest body of water, the Gulf is also an economic engine that supports millions of people and jobs.

The extent of damage caused by the 2010 oil spill remains unknown. But the disaster lends urgency to protecting the Gulf’s resources, including its diverse bounty of fish. Major progress has been achieved toward ending and preventing overfishing through federally required science-based annual catch limits. We must build on that success by ensuring depleted species recover to healthy levels, protecting habitat where fish live and spawn, safeguarding marine food webs, implementing policies to address the impacts of climate change on fish populations, and reducing unintentional catch of fish and other marine species by  fishermen pursuing other targets. Too often, these animals are thrown back and do not survive.

Taken together, these efforts - known as ecosystem-based fisheries management - can help build a more resilient ecosystem that has already endured decades of overfishing and stressors ranging from pollution to habitat loss. It is time to stop managing marine resources piecemeal but rather embrace a holistic approach that considers the interactions among prey and predator and the important roles played by marine life in the greater ecosystem.

Golden crab
Golden crab
Article

Ancient Corals Need Protection From Modern Threats

Deep-sea communities face risks from industrial activity, fishing, and ocean warming and acidification

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Gulf of Mexico deep-sea corals form diverse habitat communities consisting of reefs, mounds, and undersea forests that are home to starfish, squat lobsters, crabs, sharks, and many species of fish, including grouper and snapper. These fragile and slow-growing corals thrive in the cold, dark ocean depths.

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MDP mangrove shoal Matthew Potenski
MDP mangrove shoal Matthew Potenski
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Protecting the Prey

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Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
Article

Protecting Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

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Bluefin tuna command respect. They’re as fast as racehorses, bring fishermen to their knees, and grow to the size of a small car. These "superfish" make transoceanic migrations, can dive deeper than 4,000 feet, and live up to 40 years. But bluefin are no match for wasteful fishing methods.

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A Big-Picture Approach to Fisheries Management

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U.S. fishery managers often focus on one species at a time when determining how, when, and where fishing takes place. But each fish population is part of an interconnected ecosystem in which they interact with other fish, ocean wildlife, and habitats.

Red Snapper
Red Snapper
Article

Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Restoration

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Gulf of Mexico red snapper are on the road to recovery after decades of severe overfishing. Federally mandated catch limits form the foundation of a strong rebuilding plan that began in 2007 and is delivering results. Today, red snapper are more plentiful, larger, and spreading out across the Gulf.

Our Work

Tinselfish
Tinselfish
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Deep-Sea Corals: A New Frontier of Ocean Exploration

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Deep-sea corals are home to an astonishing array of marine life that science is just beginning to explore. But some fishing and energy development practices can damage these ocean treasures. Once harmed, deep-sea corals can take centuries to recover, so it’s vital that we protect them fully now.

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The Magnuson-Stevens Act at 40

Reasons major U.S. fishing law should shift to big picture management

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On April 13, 2016, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary law that governs fishing in U.S. ocean waters, turns 40.

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