The New England Fishery Management Council will be conducting seven public hearings from May 22–26, 2017, to solicit comments on the alternatives under consideration in the Draft Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment. The draft amendment includes several draft alternatives for potential new management areas to protect deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Maine and in the slope/canyon region south of Georges Bank. The Council is seeking feedback from the public on which alternatives should be selected and why. The hearings are being held by the Council in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The public comment period will end on June 5, and the Council intends to take final action on the amendment during its June 20-22, 2017, meeting in Portland, Maine.
Interactive maps of the draft management area alternatives were made available in March on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal to support the decision-making process. At its April meeting, the Council decided to consider additional draft alternatives for the management areas.
Maps showing the additional draft alternatives are now available in the Portal’s Data Explorer. In the Data Explorer, all of the draft alternatives can be overlaid with many other datasets on human uses and the ecosystem. The additional alternatives include:
- Additional Discrete Zones
Discrete zones overlap individual canyons, seamounts, or other features. These discrete coral zones are intended to encompass known aggregations of corals as well as steeply sloping habitats likely to have exposed rock outcroppings that provide suitable attachment sites for corals. Interactive map of additional discrete zones
- Additional Broad Zone: 600m Option 2 (Preferred Option)
This zone encompasses the shelf/slope and abyssal plain from roughly 600 meters depth south of Georges Bank to the Exclusive Economic Zone boundary. This zone covers less area than the Council’s other 600-meter alternative, which includes waters as shallow as 550 meters. Interactive map of Broad Zone 600m Option 2
To view the additional alternative management areas in the Data Explorer, click the links above or the buttons below. Alternatively, the maps can be accessed by going to the Data Explorer, clicking on Commercial Fishing in the menu along the left side of the map, scrolling down to Draft Alternative Management Areas, and then selecting one or more of the Draft Coral Amendment options. For more information about the maps of the draft alternative coral management areas, contact Michelle Bachman, NEFMC Fishery Analyst for Habitat, firstname.lastname@example.org.