In 2009, NOAA launched the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program, called for in Section 408 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as reauthorized in 2007. Specifically, the statute calls for the program to:
The Program conducts three-year field efforts to research, map, and characterize deep-sea coral habitats in selected regions. In collaboration with partners, the Program has sponsored fieldwork in the Southeastern US (2009-11); West Coast (2010-12), Alaska (2012-14), Northeast US (2013-15), and the Pacific Islands (2015-17).
Besides these field activities, the Program is working at a national level to integrate existing research on—and known locations of—deep-sea corals; conducting workshops to further identify management-driven deep-sea coral exploration and research needs and to identify the minimum requirements to address deep-sea coral data and information management needs; analyzing the distribution and intensity of fishing practices that may impact these corals; and improving the reporting and analysis of bycatch of deep-sea corals caught in commercial fishing activities.
NOAA continues to work toward increasing our understanding and conservation of deep-sea coral ecosystems. As we are able to gather more information about these complex and diverse systems, we will better be able to inform management and conservation actions.