Protect Ancient and Fragile Deep Sea Corals in the Gulf of Mexico

  • by: Gulf Restoration Network
  • recipient: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Fisheries)

Most of life on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico was a mystery until little more than a decade ago. In recent years, scientists have documented numerous fragile coral communities, some thousands of years old. These ancient bottom-dwelling animals play important ecological roles in the deep sea, offering feeding grounds, nurseries, and shelter for fish, crabs, lobsters, and many other marine animals. In addition, scientists have discovered only a fraction of corals' potential role in biomedical applications such as bone grafting and antiviral and cancer treatments. 

Take Urgent Action to Protect These Critical Animals and the Habitat They Provide NOW.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, which governs fishing in the federal waters from Texas to the west coast of Florida, is now considering measures to protect deep-sea corals by restricting the use of such fishing gear as trawls, anchors, and bottom longlines at 15 coral hot spots. When this kind of heavy gear interacts with the ocean floor, it can break or smother fragile corals, which grow very slowly and take decades to recover, if at all, once damaged. Eight additional sites in deeper waters are proposed for special place designations but without gear restrictions.

ASK THE GULF COUNCIL TO PROTECT DEEP-SEA CORALS IN THE GULF FROM DAMAGING FISHING GEAR AT ALL 23 SITES. The Gulf Council will be deciding what to do soon, and the Gulf Restoration Network will hand-deliver your support for protecting corals at the Gulf Council's next meeting.

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