Coral Reef NOAA
 
December 19, 2014  

Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program


Black coral, primnoid coral, and feather stars flourish 2,669 m (8,757 ft) deep on the pristine Davidson Seamount off the coast of California. Black coral, primnoid coral, and feather stars flourish 2,669 m (8,757 ft) deep on the pristine Davidson Seamount off the coast of California. Photo credit: NOAA/MBARI 2006

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:

  1. To identify existing research on, and known locations of, deep sea corals and submit such information to the appropriate Councils;
  2. To locate and map locations of deep sea corals and submit such information to the Councils;
  3. To monitor activity in locations where deep sea corals are known or likely to occur, based on best scientific information available, including through underwater or remote sensing technologies and submit such information to the appropriate Councils;
  4. To conduct research, including cooperative research with fishing industry participants, on deep sea corals and related species, and on survey methods;
  5. To develop technologies or methods designed to assist fishing industry participants in reducing interactions between fishing gear and deep sea corals; and
  6. To prioritize program activities in areas where deep sea corals are known to occur, and in areas where scientific modeling or other methods predict deep sea corals are likely to be present.

In 2010, NOAA released the 2nd biennial Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program 2008-2009. The report summarizes activities initiated with fiscal year 2009 Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program funding. It also presents a brief synopsis of additional conservation actions that have taken place since the first Report to Congress was submitted in 2008.

The Program conducts three-year field efforts to research, map, and characterize deep-sea coral habitats in selected regions. Field activities are being conducted or planned in the Southeastern US (2009-11); West Coast (2010-12), Alaska (2012-14), and Northeast US (2013-15).

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.

More information:

Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program Factsheet
Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization: Deep-Sea Corals

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