Collaborative development of deep-sea coral protected areas in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic

//Collaborative development of deep-sea coral protected areas in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic
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Speaker: Kiley Dancy, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council

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Sponsors: This webinar is part of a NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program webinar series to highlight research, exploration, and management of deep-sea corals and sponges around the U.S.

Seminar POC: (301-427-8650)

Abstract: In 2015, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council proposed measures to reduce the impacts of fishing on deep-sea corals off the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast. The proposal would prohibit the use of most types of bottomtending gear within a 99,000 km2 area on the outer continental shelf, slope, and deep sea to the outer boundary of the EEZ. The proposed coral zones will limit interactions between fishing gear and corals in areas of known or highly likely coral presence, and prevent the deep-water expansion of commercial fishing operations using bottom-tending gears. If approved by NOAA, this action will mark the first use of the 2006 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act discretionary authority authorizing regional Fishery Management Councils to designate zones where fishing may be restricted to protect deep-sea corals. The successful development of this action depended on two critical factors. First, availability of recent data products, including a regional habitat suitability model, new coral observations from recent surveys in mid-Atlantic canyons, and high-resolution bathymetry data enabled the development of targeted management options supported by the best available science. Second, management options were evaluated through a collaborative stakeholder workshop to determine an acceptable balance between coral protection and negative impacts on commercial fisheries. Workshop participants, including Council members and advisors, coral and habitat scientists, fishermen who utilize the proposed areas, and conservation organizations interested in coral protection, discussed competing proposals and boundary locations. The resulting set of boundaries, representing a consensus of workshop participants, was subsequently supported nearly unanimously by the Council.

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