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deepseacoral NOAAA large black coral along the edge of a very steep cliff that was heavily encrusted with coral and sponges. / Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Our Deepwater Backyard: Exploring Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts 2014

Atlantic Deep-Sea Coral Gain Protection

More than 90,650 square kilometres of deep-sea coral protected from bottom-tending fishing in the Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted on Wednesday to protect deep sea corals from most bottom fishing over about 38,000 square miles (90,650 sq km) of ocean along the US Atlantic coast

The designation prohibits the use of dredging and trawling fishing at depths greater than 1,450 feet in order to protect the fragile ecosystem of deep-sea coral in the region. 

Rick Robins, the council chairman, described the decision as 'historic move for habitat conservation'.

Conservation groups, such as the PEW Environment Trust and Oceana, had campaigned for more protection of the slow-growing coral species, stating that the recovery from the devastating impact bottom-trending fishing would have on these ecosystems would take decades. 

Oceana's Fishery Campaign Manager Gib Brogan applauded the Council on taking action, calling on New England Fishery Management Council to follow suit to protect corals all the way to the Canadian border.

The vote will be submitted to the Secretary of Commerce for review and, if approved, could become law in 2016.

Dive into the fascinating world of deep sea coral

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