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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Monday, August 15, 2016

Oceana and MARE to Launch Seafloor Expedition off Southern California


Monterey, CA — Beginning August 7, Oceana and Marine Applied Research & Exploration will embark on a five-day ocean expedition to explore and document rare and sensitive deep-sea habitats off Southern California in and around the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The groups will use a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to film seafloor habitats at depths up to 2,000 feet and plan to investigate areas between 30 and 90 miles off the mainland coast. With much of the seafloor off Southern California largely unexplored, there is much to be learned about the structure and health of these little-seen environments.

Oceana will utilize the imagery and scientific information gathered on this expedition in support of protecting fragile areas from the effects of bottom trawling—the most destructive fishing practice to seafloor habitats off the U.S. West Coast.

WHO: Oceana and Marine Applied Research & Exploration (MARE)

WHEN: Sunday August 7 to Thursday August 11, 2016

WHERE: Offshore Southern California


BACKGROUND:

Southern California boasts undersea geology unlike any other off the U.S. West Coast, marked by a series of faults, banks, and underwater mountains (seamounts). This geology, combined with cold nutrient-rich waters, supports diverse species of corals and sponges equipped to thrive in the deep ocean. These living seafloor structures provide nurseries and shelter essential to the survival and recovery of recreationally and commercially important fish species including rockfish, sole and lingcod. These habitats also support non-commercial species including octopuses and sea stars and contribute to overall ocean health. Corals and sponges in particular are slow growing and can take hundreds of years to reach full size. Their slow growth and fragile structures— which are actually colonies of hundreds of individual animals—are particularly sensitive to disturbance.

The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service, which are responsible for managing U.S. West Coast fisheries, are currently reviewing a comprehensive conservation proposal submitted by Oceana designed to protect sensitive ocean habitats from bottom trawling.

To learn more about the resources that are at risk from bottom trawling check out this on-line tour at www.oceana.org/PacificSeafloorTour

For more information about the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary visit http://channelislands.noaa.gov/

For details on Marine Applied Research & Exploration remote ocean technology go to http://www.maregroup.org/

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