Home > Explore Data & Reports > A Pilot Survey of Deepwater Coral/Sponge Assemblages and their Susceptibility to Fishing/Harvest Impacts at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS): Cruise Report for NOAA Ship McARTHUR II Cruise AR-04-04 Leg 2

Citation:

Hyland, J., C. Cooksey, E. Bowlby, M.S. Brancato, and S. Intelmann. 2005. A Pilot Survey of Deepwater Coral/Sponge Assemblages and their Susceptibility to Fishing/Harvest Impacts at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS): Cruise Report for NOAA Ship McARTHUR II Cruise AR-04-04 Leg 2. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 15. Charleston, SC. 13 pp.

Data/Report Type:

NOAA Technical Memorandum

Description

The offshore shelf and canyon habitats of the OCNMS (Fig. 1) are areas of high primary productivity and biodiversity that support extensive groundfish fisheries. Recent acoustic surveys conducted in these waters have indicated the presence of hard-bottom substrates believed to harbor unique deep-sea coral and sponge assemblages. Such fauna are often associated with shallow tropical waters, however an increasing number of studies around the world have recorded them in deeper, cold-water habitats in both northern and southern latitudes. These habitats are of tremendous value as sites of recruitment for commercially important fishes. Yet, ironically, studies have shown how the gear used in offshore demersal fishing, as well as other commercial operations on the seafloor, can cause severe physical disturbances to resident benthic fauna. Due to their exposed structure, slow growth and recruitment rates, and long life spans, deep-sea corals and sponges may be especially vulnerable to such disturbances, requiring very long periods to recover. Potential effects of fishing and other commercial operations in such critical habitats, and the need to define appropriate strategies for the protection of resources, have been identified as a high-priority management issue for the sanctuary

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