Deep Sea Corals Amendment


The Deep Sea Corals Amendment to the Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) considers management measures to protect areas that are known or highly likely to contain deep sea corals. The draft amendment includes a range of alternatives that aim to protect corals by restricting fishing in select areas where fishing effort and prime coral habitats overlap, as well as by restricting expansion of effort into less heavily fished areas where corals are known or are highly likely to be present. 


Kiley Dancy, Fishery Plan Coordinator - (302) 526-5257,

Amendment Status

At the June 2015 meeting the Council selected preferred alternatives and approved the Deep Sea Corals Amendment for submission to the Secretary of Commerce for review and publication of a proposed rule for public comment. The amendment document is currently under review by the National Marine Fisheries Service. 

The Council recommended the designation of fifteen discrete coral zones and adopted the boundaries developed during the April 2015 Deep Sea Corals Workshop.  The Council also voted to establish a broad coral zone with a landward boundary drawn between the 400 meter and 500 meter depth contour, targeting the 450 meter depth contour. The broad zone would originate at this landward boundary and extend seaward to the boundaries of the Council’s management region.

Map: Approximation of Deep Sea Coral Zones (click to enlarge).

In both types of coral zones, the Council voted to prohibit the use of all bottom-tending gear, including both mobile and stationary/passive gear types.The Council approved an exemption from gear restrictions for the red crab fishery. This exemption would apply indefinitely in the broad zones and for a period of at least two years in the discrete zones. The Council also approved a provision that would allow for vessel transit through or across all deep sea coral zones with a requirement that the vessel’s fishing gear be stowed during transit. The amendment would also require the use of Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) for all Illex squid moratorium vessels regardless of whether fishing activity is occurring within or outside of any proposed deep sea coral zones.

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