NMFS Announces Proposed Rule to Protect Deep-Sea Corals in the Mid-Atlantic

noaa nmfs logoOn September 26, 2016, NOAA Fisheries announced a proposed rule to designate a deep-sea coral protection area in the Mid-Atlantic. The area extends from the continental shelf/slope break off the Mid-Atlantic states (New York to North Carolina) to the border of the Exclusive Economic Zone.  If finalized, this proposed rule would be the first nationally to protect deep-sea corals under the new deep sea coral discretionary provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The public has until November 1 to comment on this proposed rule, either online or by mail. It should be noted that 11 years ago, the New England Fishery Management Council used the essential fish habitat provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to protect deep-sea corals located in two offshore canyon areas (Lydonia and Oceanographer) through an amendment to the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan. “This would protect 15 deep-sea canyons in a total area of about 24 million acres, about the size of Virginia, or about 20 times the size of the Grand Canyon National Park,” said John Bullard, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region. Read the Proposed rule, request for comments here 17:01