[Coral-List] NOAA Releases Report on U.S. Deep-sea Coral Ecosystems

Steven Lutz steven.lutz at mcbi.org
Mon Dec 10 13:32:26 EST 2007

NOAA Releases Report on U.S. Deep-sea Coral Ecosystems 


December 10, 2007


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a
new report today, The State of Deep Coral Ecosystems of the United
States. The peer-reviewed report, prepared by NOAA's Coral Reef
Conservation Program, documents the biology, distribution, and types of
deep-sea corals on the continental shelves and slopes of the US
including its US Caribbean and Pacific territories. The report can be
found on-line at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/dce.html.


Dr. Lance Morgan, Vice President for Science for Marine Conservation
Biology Institute (MCBI), called the report "a significant advance in
our understanding of these ecosystems and the threats they face. Few
people, even marine scientists, know that the majority of coral species
live in the deeper, colder, and darker depths of the ocean, or that some
of these form reefs that are similar to shallow waters in appearance,
species richness and importance to fisheries." Morgan notes that
"deep-sea corals are long-lived, slow growing and fragile, and are also
threatened by destructive fishing practices, especially bottom


The major threats to deep-sea corals highlighted in the NOAA report
include bottom trawling and dredging. Other potential threats include
interactions with fishing gear such as longlines, traps or pots, and
deep drop fishing, the harvest of precious corals for the jewelry trade,
minerals resource exploration and extraction activities, invasive
species, and climate change. Threats to deep-sea corals are highest in
the waters off Alaska, the West Coast, and the Northeast and Southeast


The conservation of deep-sea corals has been a focus of much recent
policy work in the international and national arenas. Last year MCBI
released "Status of Deep Sea Corals in US Waters", the first report
documenting where deep sea corals are found, the activities that
threaten these unique, long-lived habitats, and current management
strategies (found at:
http://www.mcbi.org/what/coral_science.htm#status). In 2006 MCBI
submitted a scientists' statement to the United Nations on the need to
protect Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Ecosystems in international waters
which included 1,452 signatories (found at:


"Next steps for the US government include implementation of the deep-sea
coral language in the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation
and Management Act," said Steven Lutz, lead author of the NOAA report's
Caribbean chapter and Ocean Policy Analyst for MCBI. "This language
establishes a Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program at NOAA,
authorizes the US Regional Fishery Management Councils to restrict the
use of destructive types of fishing gear within deep sea coral areas,
and includes deep-sea corals in provisions combating illegal fishing on
the high seas. More mapping activities are needed so that we can save
these corals. NOAA's Deep Sea Coral Report is a volume of useful
information for management and education, and directs us in the right
direction, towards conservation and science-based stewardship."


Internet resources:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

NOAA Deep Coral Report: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/dce.html

MCBI: http://www.mcbi.org

MCBI Status of Deep-Sea Corals Report:

Deep-Sea Coral Scientist Statement:




Contact:           Lance Morgan, MCBI (deep-sea coral science), Tel: 707
938 3214

Steven Lutz, MCBI (deep-sea coral policy), Tel: 202 546 5346



Steven Lutz, Ocean Policy Analyst
Marine Conservation Biology Institute
600 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Suite 210
Washington DC 20003  USA
1 202 546 5346 (office)
1 202 546 5348 (fax)
Steven.Lutz at mcbi.org


Protecting Ocean Life Through Science and Conservation Advocacy 

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