The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which met in Portland, expands conservation measures for ocean floor.

COURTESY: OCEANA  - Basket star photographed on the ocean floor. Over 140,000 square miles of sea floor habitat off the West Coast will be protected, after a vote Monday, April 9, from the Pacific Fishery Management Council. This will help protect species such as corals and sponges that live on the ocean floor from bottom trawling — when boats drag fishing nets along the bottom of the ocean.

"Living structures on the ocean floor, like corals and sponges, provide nurseries, food

and shelter essential for the survival and productivity of important commercial and sport fish species, like rockfish and lingcod," said Susan Murray, a deputy vice president at Oceana, an advocacy group lobbying for the new protections.

Once these new regulations are implemented, the size of the sea floor that is protected in

the area will double. The habitat being protected consists of deep-sea coral gardens, sponge beds, and reefs where creatures like octopus and sea stars live. It's also the habitat for over 90 species of rockfish in the Pacific Northwest.

An area where rockfish flock near Daisy Bank off the coast of Oregon will also gain protections, as well as bamboo coral forests near Crescent City, and other areas off of Washington and California.

Now, over 90 percent of the area 3 to 200 miles from shore known as the "Exclusive Economic Zone" will be protected from trawling, according to Oceana

More seafloor habitat between Southern California and the U.S.-Mexico border will also receive protections, as well as areas of the seafloor nearly two miles below the surface.

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