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Mid-Atlantic Council Approves Deep-Sea Corals Amendment


Deep-sea corals, like their shallow water, tropical counterparts, grow slowly and are very fragile.  Deep-sea corals lack the symbiotic algae of tropical corals, instead living off plankton and organic matter in the water. They are spectacular and complex systems, providing habitat for diverse fish and invertebrate communities in waters 50 meters to 2,000 meters in depth.

At the June 2015 Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting, members voted unanimously to approve an amendment to protect deep-sea corals from being damaged by fishing gear in the Mid-Atlantic. The amendment would prohibit the use of fishing gear such as trawls, dredges, and bottom longlines in an area more than 38,000 square miles—roughly the size of Virginia—making it the largest marine protected area in U.S. Atlantic waters.

The amendment had approval from both industry and environmental groups.

Read more about the amendment from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

Find out more about deep-sea corals from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Pictured: A large brisingid starfish among white lophelia coral, anemones, and white "black" coral bushes (Leiopathes glaberrima), lollipop sponges, and a large squat lobster with large chelipeds. Credit: Lophelia II 2010: Oil Seeps and Deep Reefs