Draft Fishery Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement for Coral and Coral Reefs of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
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The proposed action is to adopt and implement a fishery management plan for coral and coral reefs within the jurisdiction of the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils. The primary objective of this plan is to optimize benefits while conserving the management unit. This goal is supported by specific objectives to generate sufficient data to assess the feasibility of harvest of coral, to minimize adverse human impacts, to provide special management to particular habitat areas, to increase public awareness of the resource, and to provide a coordinated management regime. This fishery plan covers over 400 species of coral distributed throughout the management area. The size and diversity of this unit is exceedingly complex, including species ranging from shallow water, muddy sediment sea whips to deepwater precious corals, and from hard bottom solitary species to out bank reef corals. Among the most significant and unique stocks are the Flower Garden Banks on the Texas/Louisiana outer continental shelf and the Florida reef tract. Elsewhere, much of the coral occurs in hard bottom communities where it contributes habitat and food to many other species, within established recreational or commercial value, e.g., snapper, grouper, shrimp. In certain areas, particularly southern Florida, corals also help support important businesses such as diving and charter-boats.
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