Mid-Atlantic eyed for marine reserve

With less than one year left in office, President Barack Obama is moving forward with plans to restrict fishing in two areas off the Atlantic Coast.

In February, the Mid-Atlantic Marine Fishery Council voted to name an off-shore area stretching from North Carolina to New York State the Frank J. Lautenberg Deep Sea Coral Protection Area.

Spanning 35,000 square miles, approximately the size of South Carolina, the area contains some 15 undersea canyons. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to approve the name and the designation of the area as a marine reserve.

Once the reserve is officially established, bottom trawling within its boundaries will be banned as part of an effort to protect slow-growing, deep-water corals, which provide homes for numerous species.

Lautenberg, a long-time Democratic U.S. senator from New Jersey who died in 2013, was a staunch advocate of limiting commercial fishing, inserting a provision in the landmark Magnuson-Stevens Marine Fishery and Conservation Management Act (1976) encouraging fishery councils to ban or restrict fishing in areas where there is deep-sea coral.

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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is the online editor for National Fisherman.

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