All animals need safe places to grow, reproduce, and find food. Marine animals are no different. In the ocean, their habitats can be the sandy bottom, a seamount rising from the ocean floor, or a deep canyon carved into the continental shelf. These places are affected by pollution and other human activities such as oil and gas drilling and commercial fishing, which research shows can have negative consequences. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is tasked with regulating ocean fishing and protecting our nation's ocean resources. Some areas of New England's waters have been closed to various types of fishing gear for decades in order to encourage the return of healthy populations of important groundfish (such as cod, haddock, and flounder), but the region does not have a plan for habitat management, as required by federal law. A plan for protecting essential fish habitat has been under development for 10 years. A variety of alternatives will be presented to the public later this year, many of which propose a reduction in the size of the area currently protected. Some of these proposals ignore established science and place the short-term interests of the commercial fishing industry above the need to protect habitat for the long-term benefit of the ecosystem, its fish populations, and the coastal communities they support.