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NCCOS Science Helps Advance Landmark Deep-sea Coral Protection Measure in Mid-Atlantic

Published on: 05/07/2015
Research Area(s): Other Topics

Recent discoveries have revealed that the Mid-Atlantic Canyons host a wide array of beautiful, valuableand fragile gardens of habitat-forming deep-sea corals (DSC). On April 29-30, NCCOSscientist Brian Kinlan participated in a Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) workshop todevelop boundary alternatives to protect DSC from bottom-tending fishing gear in all major Mid-Atlanticcanyons. The purpose of thisworkshop was to examine existing boundary alternatives for DSC protection zones, and to forge a newconsensus boundary alternative that addressed concerns of major stakeholders, including the bottomtrawl fishing industry, NGO’s, and scientists.

Close-up of a "young" bamboo coral colony observed during the 2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition. The polyps have contracted and withdrawn their tentacles. The two large red polyps in the background are the octocoral Anthomastus. Credit: NOAA

Close-up of a “young” bamboo coral colony observed during the 2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition. The polyps have contracted and withdrawn their tentacles. The two large red polyps in the background are the octocoral Anthomastus. Credit: NOAA

The group reached consensus on boundary alternatives for all 15 proposed DSC zones. These 15 zonescover all 28 major canyons in the Mid-Atlantic region, comprising the vast majority of DSC habitat in theMid-Atlantic, with an area of more than 7,000 square kilometers.The MAFMC will vote on DSCprotection alternatives at their next meeting June 8-11, 2015.

This outcome was possible only through data and models developed by NCCOS. From the National DSC geodatabase to habitat suitabilitymodeling and field support of modelvalidation, NCCOS science was critical toadvancing this major place-based conservation outcome one step further towards reality.

For more information contact Brian.Kinlan@noaa.gov

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