Under the discretionary provisions for deep-sea coral protection in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the New England Fishery Management Council developed this action to reduce the impacts of fishing gear on deep-sea corals after considering long-term sustainable uses of the fishery resources in the area. The Council process took several years and included a high-degree of public input in the development of the final protection areas and associated measures, including use of the Northeast Ocean Data Portal to examine maps and data. Deep-sea corals are important sources of habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates, including commercially important fish species.
- Establishes the Georges Bank Deep-Sea Coral Protection Area. This area is on the outer continental shelf in New England waters. It complements the Frank R. Lautenberg Deep-Sea Coral Protection Area established by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council in January 2017.
- Prohibits bottom-tending commercial fishing gear (with the exception of red crab pot gear) in the Georges Bank Coral Protection Area to protect deep-sea corals.
- Designates the Mount Desert Rock and Outer Schoodic Ridge Coral Protection Areas in the Gulf of Maine. Vessels are prohibited from fishing with bottom-tending mobile gear in these areas. Vessels are still able to fish for lobster in these areas using trap gear.
- Designates the Jordan Basin Dedicated Habitat Research Area in the Gulf of Maine as a dedicated habitat research area.
For more information:
- Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment final rule
- The NOAA bulletin posted on the web
- New England Fishery Management Council Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment page
- Portal News Item: Portal maps and data support public comment period for New England Fishery Management Council Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment
- Portal Case Study: Balancing Deep-Sea Coral Protection and Commercial Fishing