Deep Sea Corals Amendment (Amendment 16 to the Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish FMP)


The Deep Sea Corals Amendment to the Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) considered management measures to protect areas that are known or highly likely to contain deep sea corals. The amendment included a range of alternatives aiming 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 Management Specialist - (302) 526-5257,

Amendment Status

On December 14, 2016, NOAA Fisheries published a final rule for the Deep Sea Corals Amendment to the Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish Fishery Management Plan. 

Final Measures

NMFS approved the Council recommendation to designate fifteen discrete coral zones using the boundaries developed during the April 2015 Deep Sea Corals Workshop.  The Council also established 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 originates at this landward boundary and extends 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 use of most types of bottom-tending gear are prohibited, including both mobile and stationary/passive gear types. This action does not impact the lobster trap fishery, nor does it apply to recreational gear types. An exemption from gear restrictions is provided for the red crab fishery indefinitely in the broad zones and for a period of at least two years in the discrete zones. The final rule includes a provision allowing 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 action also requires 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.

Recent Documents & Resources

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Older Documents

April 2015 Workshop

Public Hearings

Alternative Development


Additional Information