New England council makes progress on Deep Sea Corals Omnibus Amendment

Danvers, MA – As of the Sept. 20-22 New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) meeting, two of the major delays to progress on the Deep Sea Corals Omnibus Amendment have been resolved, allowing the Plan Development Team (PDT) to move forward on the draft environmental assessment. 

Deep sea corals are slow-growing, fragile deep water animals susceptible to disturbances on the seafloor, but provide important habitat for benthic communities.

The draft deep sea corals amendment was initiated in 2008 to protect the corals from the effects of fishing gear to the maximum extent practicable.

New England council staffer and habitat PDT chair Michelle Bachman told the council that uncertainty about the location of the New England Canyons and Seamounts National Monument prevented them from completing the analysis needed.

“At one point, the New England monument was proposed for all of the New England region,” Bachman said.”The final monument was reduced to four seamounts (Bear, Mytilus, Physalia, and Retriever) and five canyons (Oceanographer, Filebottom, Chebacco, Gilbert, and Lydonia).”

Bachman said that the PDT impact analysis had been stymied by not knowing whether or how the broad corals zones, which include all four seamounts, and the canyons would be managed.

The second issue, whether or not the council wanted to consider restrictions on lobster traps…


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