Deep sea corals off the coast of Maine benefit from permanent protection
Fishery regulators in the northeast are permanently keeping about 25,000 square miles of seabed away from certain types of commercial fishing, in an effort to protect sensitive deep-sea corals.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week released a final rule banning mobile bottom trawling gear from large areas of deep water along the outer continental shelf off New England and in some smaller areas closer to the coast of Maine.
“Deep sea corals have a very fragile skeleton and can be broken or moved with just one pass of these nets, and they will not recover,” said Gib Brogan, who leads advocacy campaigns for the international group Oceana.
Brogan says the areas in question don’t see many trawlers right now – but the NOAA designations mark a proactive effort to avoid damaging fishing practices that have emerged elsewhere.
“When looking for other species that are not part of the fisheries in the United States, there is a special piece of equipment called an” anti-canyon gate “that has been specially designed for fishing in the deep-water canyons where corals grow “, says Brogan. .
Protected areas include some seabed that is enjoyed by the Maine lobster fishing fleet – including parts of Georges Bank, an area near Mt. Desert Rock and Schoodic Ridge. But lobster traps are specifically exempt from the new regulations, which were proposed by the Northeast Regional Fisheries Management Board.
Meanwhile, new measurements could be taken for an ocean area east of Cape Cod called the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. President Obama created the monument in 2016, and former President Trump then attempted to weaken protections there. Today, environmentalists and fishermen are awaiting the outcome of a recent review of the monument’s status by President Biden.