Protecting the Mid-Atlantic’s Coral Canyons


by Pam Lyons Gromen

In the Summer 2014 issue of the Wild Oceans Horizon, we reported on recent discoveries of coral communities in the cold, dark waters of the Atlantic’s offshore canyons, and the efforts of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to protect these unique and important habitats.

Packaged as Amendment 16 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan, management options under consideration range from the status quo (i.e., doing nothing) to establishing a network of coral protection zones where bottom-tending commercial gears like otter trawls would be prohibited because of their potential to irreparably damage fragile coral structures.

Soon the Mid-Atlantic Council will be reaching out to the public for comment on what options to select.  Hearings will likely begin in November and stretch into December.  Wild Oceans will analyze the public comment document once it is released to identify the alternatives we believe will be most effective for conserving these biodiversity hotspots.

In preparation for the public comment period, we wanted to share some amazing footage that NOAA collected during recent expeditions to the Mid-Atlantic canyons.  We thank our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for sifting through hours of raw footage to compile this spectacular video.


Video compilation from NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer investigations of Atlantic Coast deep-sea corals (compiled and edited by NRDC).


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