Deep Sea Coral Amendment 7
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TimestampEnter your full nameemail addressCity, State, Zip CodeCheck all that applyComments
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8/31/2016 11:38:27Test Onegulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.orgTampa, FL 33604OtherThis is test one.
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9/20/2016 14:40:53testtesttestOthertest
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11/28/2016 13:12:58Jeffery DunbarJDUNBAR@SWISHER.COM
Fernandina Beach, fl 32034
Private Recreational AnglerAs an avid king mackerel angler who travels all over the SE to fish, from my point of view, allowing the 'unused' recreational catch to roll over to the commercial fishery is just a bad idea. This proposed amendment does nothing to help the fishery and only places more control of it into commercial hands. This amendment, if passed likely will result sometime in the future in a closed recreational fishery. This has obvious affects upon the local marinas, hotels and other businesses that support us and again does nothing to help sustain the king mackerel stocks for either recreational or commercial anglers.
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2/24/2017 16:08:20Felicia Lewisfelicialewis1@hotmail.comPhiladelphiaPrivate Recreational AnglerI urge you to establish strong protections for deep water corals and essential fish habitat. I ask you to use new scientific information to designate new HAPCs. These deep water corals are a national treasure and are essential to a sustainable, healthy gulf and healthy fish that we can all enjoy for generations.
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2/26/2017 9:32:06john powellfpowell321@hotmail.com35446Private Recreational AnglerNone of your options for "rebuilding" the trigger fishery are suitable. No matter what the flawed data says, the triggerfish population in the Gulf is healthy. How can fisheries decisions be made when the best available data is known to be corrupt? But once again we go down the same wrong path. This style of "protection" is devastating not only for the fishermen and coastal economies, but also for the health of our Gulf ecosystems. The damaging agenda of The Environmental Defense Fund needs to be removed from future fisheries decisions, because it has become obvious that the health of the Gulf environment is not their concern. Here are four options that the council should have to choose from: (1) Data providers are incompetent. (2) Data providers are corrupt. (3) Data providers are carrying out the radical agenda of the EDF. (4) All of the above.
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2/28/2017 15:15:39Cynthia Merkeycmerkey@gmail.comOcalaOtherI support any efforts to protect deep sea corals. We are losing too many of these fragile systems everyday. Restrict fishing that damages these reefs. This will.benefit fishermen in the long run.
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2/28/2017 16:39:50Marc AleepAngkorday2@Yahoo.comTallahasseeIn recent years, scientists have discovered corals scattered in dense patches throughout the Gulf, spanning the edge of the continental shelf, primarily at depths of 165 to 660 feet and also more than 9,000 feet below the surface.

These sensitive corals, some of which grow slowly for thousands of years, thrive in the cold, dark depths.

Yet deep-sea corals face many threats and once damaged may take centuries or longer to recover. They are susceptible to warming waters and ocean acidification, and can be harmed by oil spills, underwater pipelines, and communications cables that are dragged along the seafloor and kick up sediment, which can suffocate marine life. Similarly, boat anchors, crab traps, and some methods of deep-water fishing, such as trawling (dragging large nets along the seafloor), may also stir sediment or break corals. Fishing lines and weights deployed on the sea bottom can harm corals, too.

Current policies safeguard only some of these fragile coral hot spots by prohibiting anchoring or the use of certain types of deep-fishing gear in these areas. It’s important to protect more of these ancient jewels.

Please implement tough, long-lasting protections for corals, sea animals, and the entire ecosystem. What we do will return to us in the future.
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3/1/2017 11:53:06Barbara Beierl
barbara-beierl@comcast.net
Nashua, NH 03062NGO, OtherWe must preserve the corals of the world. We are destroying our planet and must stop. It is a self-evident truth. But, selfishly, we act on our own selfish interests and motives and forget about the larger picture. Pleasure-seeking is not the way to live!
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3/2/2017 12:10:08Mary Ann Cernakmacernakphd@verizon.netHowell, NJ 07731Private Recreational Angler, OtherAs someone who wants to be able to continuing enjoying fishing and snorkeling I want to express my strong support for actions that will protect, not destroy and jeopardize the coral reefs in the Gulf. The reefs are already under severe stress; failure to take every action possible to save them will result in this vital resource being destroyed.,
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3/3/2017 16:52:37Joanie Steinhausjoanie@tirn.netGalvestonNGOComments for Deep Coral Amendment 7

Thank you to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, on behalf of Turtle Island Restoration Network, for giving the public an opportunity to comment on Amendment 7.

Due to the incredible diversity that coral reefs provide, organisms benefit from many things that they have to offer. They are used for feeding grounds, breeding, nursery, and commuting. Deep-sea coral life spans can range from hundreds to thousands of years, maturing at an extremely slow rate, but their vulnerability to human activities puts them at risk of a much shorter life cycle and less time to reproduce.

Deep-sea coral already resides in low temperature, low light, low oxygen water but they are not completely safe from human impacts. The many species of black coral and stony coral are spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico. With human activities such as commercial fishing increases carbon dioxide in the water, the development of coral species slows. When damaged, they may take hundreds of years to recover. There are a few things that can be done to provide these complex systems with more protection which will therefore increase biodiversity, fisheries, and even biomedical research.

By designating new Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, the deep water coral through the Gulf will have less human impact on its growth. Limiting the commercial fishing (bottom trawls, traps, fishing gear) can improve not only the maturation of coral but also increase fish and invertebrate diversity as the coral thrives. The increase in quantity and diversity will improve commercial fishing and the quality of target species used for consumption, increasing their value. This will also help to decrease overfishing.

Habitat Areas of Particular Concern fall under four categories, one of the four being habitat sensitive to human induced degradation. Any and every coral falls under this category. This does not mean every area with coral/coral reefs needs to be designated a HAPC. Redefining an HAPC will provide a better understanding when deciding regulations for protecting these habitats. Although all coral is important, some reproduce slowly and mature slowly (deep-sea coral.) Focus should be placed on coral that is impacted the most and most often by human activities.

Fifteen areas are being proposed to fall under HAPC and eight more to be HAPC’s without fishing regulations. Twenty three total areas are being considered to become HAPC’s, about 621 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is over 600,000 square miles with commercial vessels often commuting hundreds of miles for days at a time so the new proposed HAPC’s of deep-sea coral should only improve fishing conditions. Lastly, reincorporating Octocorals into the Fisheries Management Unit could only benefit the ecosystem, therefore benefiting the organisms affected by them and then fisheries as well.

Turtle Island Restoration Network stands in support of designating all the proposed areas as HAPCs, and reincorporating the Octocorals into the Fisheries Management Unit.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.
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3/4/2017 15:51:47Dan Silverdsilverla@me.comLos Angeles, CA 90012NGOThe Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council should protect corals in at least 15 areas by restricting the use of certain kinds of fishing gear that could damage these vulnerable marine animals.
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3/20/2017 2:34:53Carol Gliddencarolcg93@gmail.comKalamazoo, MI 49008OtherIn order to survive, the human race needs healthy oceans, which are not possible without healthy, THRIVING coral reefs.

We must hope that it is not too late for us to rein in our shortsighted hubris, and to act AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE to restore the health of our oceans.
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3/28/2017 12:38:07Derek Breauxderek@healthygulf.org
New Orleans, LA, 70115
NGOMarch 23, 2017

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
2203 N Lois Avenue
Suite 1100
Tampa, Florida 33607 USA

Re: Coral Amendment 7 Scoping Document

Dear Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council,

We strongly support the proposed idea of establishing 15 more HAPCs for corals, so long as these protection zones have fishing and boating regulations. Bottom trawls, dredges, bottom longlines, traps and pots, bottom-set nets, and fixed longlines are all directly damaging to corals, as well as anchors latching onto or getting dragged over corals; there needs to be regulations on these in order for protection zones to actually work.

The amendment also suggests creating 8 HAPCs for deep-sea corals that don’t need fishing regulations. Although we support the creation of the HAPCs, the lack of fishing regulations is problematic. Just because corals at far depths aren’t currently being affected by fishing gear doesn’t mean that it’s not a possibility in the future. Deep-sea corals in particular are some of the oldest and slowest growing organisms in the ocean. If damage, they will take hundreds of years to regenerate (if they regenerate at all). Thus, we should be proactive in protecting them against any possible human-induced damage.

Bottom trawls are particularly damaging corals both directly (by physical contact) and indirectly (by drowning them in sediments); the most significant destruction occurs during the initial sweep over the corals. The simplest way to save an abundance of these corals is to create more HAPCs (as suggested in the amendment) and tighten regulations for bottom trawling in these areas. Additionally, instead of completely outlawing bottom trawls, gear modifications could be implemented to minimize coral damage, such as raising the sweeps off the seafloor using disk clusters.^1

We also agree with the proposal to redefine existing HAPCs using new research technologies and information that was not available when these areas were initially designated in 2005. This will allow the Gulf Council to evaluate how effective the current regulations have been in protecting corals, and if the boundaries of the HAPCs need to be broadened or if they can be made smaller.

Lastly, we agree with the final proposal to reintroduce octocorals to the coral and coral reefs fishery management plan. These corals provide structure and habitat at depths that many other species can’t grow in, making them an important species for deep-sea coral conservation.


Respectfully submitted,

Derek Breaux
Fisheries Associate

Grace Newcomb
Intern to Fisheries Associate


1 Ryer, Clifford H. and Rose, Craig S. and Iseri, Paul J. (2010) Flatfish herding behavior in response to trawl sweeps: a comparison of diel responses to conventional sweeps and elevated sweeps. Fishery Bulletin, 108 (2), pp. 145-154.
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