Protect the Grand Canyons of the Ocean


Hidden below the surface of Alaska’s icy waters lie the world’s largest underwater canyons, both more massive than America’s Grand Canyon. Home to orcas, walrus and fur seals, albatross and kittiwakes, king crab, squid, salmon and coldwater corals, brittle stars and sponges, the continental slope and canyons of the Bering Sea (known as the Bering Sea “Green Belt”) are home to an immense diversity of wildlife. Spanning more than 770,000 square miles between Western Alaska and Russia’s Siberian coast, this area of immense ecological value is also the source of more than half of the seafood caught in the United States and is subject to devastating commercial fishing tactics. This week, Mission Blue is launching a petition to urge Alaska’s North Pacific Fishery Management Council to protect the Bering Sea Green Belt.

Deep-sea corals photographed during a Greenpeace-sponsored expedition with NOAA Fisheries. © Greenpeace

When Mission Blue founder and National Geographic Explorer in Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle named the Bering Sea as the 19th Mission Blue Hope Spot in 2013, she highlighted the importance of this vibrant ecosystem as a part of the “life support system” we know as the ocean. With healthy fish stocks and bottom-dwelling communities of corals and sponges come healthy populations of whales, sharks and the greatest predator of all – humans. The vast food web that the Bering Sea sustains makes global ripples throughout the ocean, providing nutrients to numerous fish species that are the lifeblood of commercial fisheries in Alaska and beyond. In fact, the Bering Sea supports some of the largest salmon, crab, and whitefish fisheries in the world.[i]

Unregulated commercial fishing in the Bering Sea canyons and Green Belt brings with it an arsenal of destructive tools like bottom trawlers, which scrape the seafloor like lawn mowers and destroy —> Read More