Cashes Ledge is an undersea mountain about 100 miles southeast of Portland. It has been front-page news in the Portland Press Herald and other publications over the past several months.

Cashes Ledge is currently afforded the protection and conservation measures of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Public hearings have been held throughout New England to help decide whether Cashes Ledge should continue to be closed to the harvesting of groundfish or opened with some restrictions. Scientists, researchers, fishermen and others have shared their future visions of Cashes Ledge.

This 550-square-mile area was cordoned off 12 or so years ago and has remained untouched by commercial fishing and other intrusions by man. It is a safe haven for a diverse population of marine wildlife.

The sea needs a sanctuary from which to replenish itself. It is the duty of man tapping a global resource to invest the effort to market new species from varied sources and develop the technology to gather from more and different areas.

Cashes Ledge needs our protection. A single swipe of a trawler could wipe out the majestic kelp forest there, disrupting the lives of its marine wildlife and disturbing this pristine example of a healthy ocean habitat. Groundfish can be harvested elsewhere without destroying this vibrant, thriving ecosystem that can reveal so much to us.

Betsy Fecto

Portland