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Mid-Atlantic Council to Hold Hearings on Deep Sea Corals Amendment
Monday, January 5, 2015

Mid-Atlantic Council to Hold Hearings on Deep Sea Corals Amendment

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold six public hearings in January to gather public comments on the Deep Sea Corals Amendment to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The amendment considers measures to address the potential impacts of fishing gear on deep sea corals in the Mid-Atlantic. The hearings will be held January 12 – 20, 2015 (schedule below), and written comments will be accepted until January 28, 2015.

The Council initiated the amendment in April 2012 in order to minimize the impacts of fishing gear on deep sea corals in the Mid-Atlantic. Deep-sea corals are generally found at water depths below 50 meters and can live for hundreds or even thousands of years. These corals, which provide habitat for commercially and recreationally important fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic, are thought to be particularly vulnerable to physical damage because of their fragility and slow growth rates.

The Council has approved a range of alternatives that designate deep sea coral protection zones, which would consist of areas where use of certain gear types (all bottom-tending gear or all mobile bottom-tending gear) would be restricted in order to protect deep sea corals from physical damage caused by fishing gear. Although this action is being taken through the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish FMP, these measures could apply to any federally-regulated fishing activity occurring within the proposed areas in the Mid-Atlantic Council region. Additionally, this amendment proposes to modify the framework provisions of the FMP and require Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) for all Illex squid vessels.

During the public comment period the public may comment on any aspect of the draft Amendment. Following a review of the comments, the Council will choose preferred management measures and submit the Amendment to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and publication of proposed and final rules, both of which have additional comment periods.

Comments may be submitted in writing or provided verbally at any of the six public hearings. Additional information and documents, including the public hearing document, may be obtained from http://www.mafmc.org/actions/msb/am16.

Written Comments

Written comments will be accepted until January 28, 2015. Written comments may be sent by any of the following methods:

Email to the following address: kdancy@mafmc.org; Include ‘‘Deep Sea Corals Amendment Comments’’ in the subject line;

Mail or hand deliver to Dr. Christopher M. Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, Delaware 19901. Mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Deep Sea Corals Amendment Comments’’;

Fax to (302) 674–5399; or

Online at http://www.mafmc.org/comments/deep-sea-corals.

Public Hearing Schedule

The dates and locations of the public hearings are as follows:

Monday, January 12, 2015, 7:00 p.m., Hyatt Place Long Island/East End, 451 East Main Street, Riverhead, NY 11901, telephone: (631) 208–0002;

Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 7:00 p.m., The Grand Hotel, 1045 Beach Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204, telephone: (609) 884–5611;

Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 7:00 p.m., Washington Marriott at Metro Center, 775 12th Street NW., Washington, DC 20005, telephone: (202) 737–2200;

Thursday, January 15, 2015, 7:00 p.m., Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 3001 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, VA 23451, telephone: (866) 460–7456;

Friday, January 16, 2015, 7:00 p.m., Ocean Pines Library, 11107 Cathell Rd., Berlin, MD 21811, telephone: (410) 208– 4014;

Tuesday, January 20, 2015, 7:00 p.m., Internet webinar, http://mafmc.adobeconnect.com/corals-hearing/, Audio: 800-832-0736, Room number 4472108

These public hearings are accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to Kathy Collins, (302) 526-5253, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

Contact
For more information, contact Kiley Dancy, kdancy@mafmc.org.


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