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Analysis and Distribution of Deepwater Commercial Fisheries Species (Golden Crab, Tilefish, Royal Red Shrimp) in Deepwater Coral Habitats off Eastern Florida

Project Goal

To document the occurrence and distribution of golden crab, blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, and royal red shrimp in deep-water habitats (200 m to 900 m) off eastern and southern Florida, within the jurisdiction of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC).

Geographic Location

Federal waters off Eastern Florida

Approach

Videos from a total of 94 submersible and remotely operated vehicle dives were used for this project, covering a total distance of 203 nautical miles (376 km). A total of 386 hours of videotapes were reviewed and annotated. Habitat associations for federally managed deepwater fisheries (golden crab, tilefish, and royal red shrimp) were described. The work was completed by John Reed from Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute/Florida Atlantic University.

Results

Several high-relief, deep-water reef sites off Florida were discovered that appear only as a small irregularities in the best available NOAA bathymetric charts. The current golden crab fishery off eastern Florida has been granted Allowable Golden Crab Fishing Areas by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council within the newly designated Deep-water Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (CHAPC); however, some of these zones abut and overlap important deepwater hard-bottom habitat. Within the Deep-water Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, at least eight sites were documented that clearly show high-relief bathymetric features and probable coral habitat that are within the Allowable Crab Fishing Areas. The results are summarized in Reed and Farrington (2010).

Importance to Management

Managers will use this information to evaluate the need to redefine allowable fishing boundaries in order to protect and preserve vulnerable deep-water coral habitat. This information also gives managers a better understanding of what habitat types (e.g., coral versus mud bottoms) are utilized by deepwater fisheries species. Managers will also use information from Reed and Farrington (2010) in Essential Fish Habitat consultations for non-fishing related activities (installation of pipelines, fiber optic cables, renewable offshore energy development) that may result in an adverse impact to deepwater habitats.

Reference

Reed, J., and Farrington, S. 2010. Distribution of Deep-water Commercial Fisheries Species Golden Crab, Tilefish, Royal Red Shrimp in Deep-water Habitats off Eastern Florida from Submersible and ROV Dives. 163 pages.

Fiscal Year 2009 Funding

$10,000

Point of Contact

Jocelyn Karazsia, Jocelyn.Karazsia@noaa.gov