Baltimore Canyon Urban National Marine Sanctuary process will go forward

baltimore-canyon-smallA month ago, the National Aquarium launched a petition to establish the 28-mile long underwater rift as its first Urban National Marine Sanctuary. The designation would help protect the rare deep-sea coral and ecosystem in the Baltimore Canyon by restricting offshore exploration for minerals, oil and gas. Since the canyon is one of the cornerstones of Ocean City’s fishing industry and, hence, its tourism market, sports fishing advocates have been pushing back on the designation. That culminated in a two-hour forum last week. Charter boat captain Franky Pettolina, the Ocean City Marlin Club president, saw the summit as a symbol of goodwill, but thought that the marine community argued in vain. Under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, any action that removes, injures or damages any sanctuary resource, fish included, are prohibited. National Aquarium Director of Conservation Laura Bankey, who attended the meeting, said people will still be able to fish if the Baltimore Canyon is made a marine sanctuary. “Unlike land conservation areas, everything is allowed to continue until it is closed off [in a marine sanctuary],” Bankey said. “Sanctuaries are supposed to be multi-use areas. It’s our intention that recreation and commercial fisheries will be able to use these just like they do today.” Read the rest here 09:14