Turtle Island Restoration Network submitted comments in November to voice our support of federal rules that would restrict fishing around coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.
Deep sea corals are already under tremendous stress from global climate change, rising sea temperatures, invasive species, and more. Bottom-contact fishing gear can exacerbate and further harm corals, causing immediate damage to these slow growing organisms, making it very difficult for corals to recover. Deep sea corals provide important, complex, biodiverse fish habitat and are crucial for the survival of marine life.
“Although little, if any, fishing is ongoing in or near these sites, the inclusion of regulations prohibiting fishing with bottom tending gear would preclude fisheries from these areas in the future—preventing future damage to these vulnerable areas,” said Advocacy & Policy Manger Annalisa Batanides Tuel. “Coral communities are especially fragile and slow growing, so any potential damage caused in the temporal lapse of regulations could take decades or even centuries to remedy.”