Final Rule to Designate Coral Protection Areas on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine

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NOAA Fisheries - New England - Mid Atlantic Bulletin

June 21, 2021

Final Rule to Designate Coral Protection Areas on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine

Today, NOAA Fisheries signed a final rule to designate coral protection areas on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine. Under the discretionary provisions for deep-sea coral protection in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the New England Fishery Management Council developed this action to reduce the impacts of fishing gear on deep-sea corals after considering long-term sustainable uses of the fishery resources in the area. The Council process took several years and included a high-degree of public input in the development of the final protection areas and associated measures. Deep-sea corals are important sources of habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates, including commercially important fish species.

This action:

  • Establishes the Georges Bank Deep-Sea Coral Protection Area. This area is on the outer continental shelf in New England waters. It complements the Frank R. Lautenberg Deep-Sea Coral Protection Area established by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council in January 2017.
  • Prohibits bottom-tending commercial fishing gear (with the exception of red crab pot gear) in the Georges Bank Coral Protection Area to protect deep-sea corals.
  • Designates the Mount Desert Rock and Outer Schoodic Ridge Coral Protection Areas in the Gulf of Maine. Vessels are prohibited from fishing with bottom-tending mobile gear in these areas. Vessels are still able to fish for lobster in these areas using trap gear.
  • Designates the Jordan Basin Dedicated Habitat Research Area in the Gulf of Maine as a dedicated habitat research area.

For more information, read the final rule or the bulletin posted on the web.


Fishermen: Contact Travis Ford, Sustainable Fisheries, 978-281-9233

Media: Contact Allison Ferreira, Regional Office, 978-281-9103