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Great News for Atlantic Deep-sea Corals

There was an historic win for the future of deep-sea corals this week!
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted to protect more than 38,000 square miles of ocean —an area the size of Virginia—from most types of bottom fishing. The combined protected area stretches from New York to Virginia and includes 15 canyon areas. The canyons contain beautiful and fragile coral and sponges that a variety of fish call home.
Deep-sea corals are extremely slow-growing and long-lived, so they don’t recover easily or quickly from damage. They are highly vulnerable to human disturbance, such as bottom trawling.

In recent years, NOAA’s Deepwater Canyon Expeditions have revealed a great deal about the mysterious world of deep-sea corals. Scientists from NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Research & Technology Program provided information to inform the council’s decision, including sea floor mapping, modeling, and surveys. The final outcome was supported by data collected in collaboration with the fishing industry and conservation groups

With this decision, the Mid-Atlantic Council became the first in the nation to use the discretionary deep-sea coral authority in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This action sets a precedent for other fishery regions to build on.

What’s Next?

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will submit the "Deep Sea Corals Amendment" to NOAA Fisheries for approval and rulemaking.

Explore the canyons for yourself! Click here to dive deeper.

Posted June 15, 2015