There is increasing evidence that cold water corals are of ecological importance as nursery grounds, shelter, and sources of food for commercially important marine species and that they are under severe threat from human activities, particularly fishing. In an effort to address how fishing impacts on cold water corals in the U.S. Atlantic Exclusive Economic Zone might best be addressed, this research examines how the potential for damage to cold water corals from fishing gear has changed over time and what the applicability of existing and proposed U.S. law is to cold water coral conservation.
A review of the biology and ecology of cold water corals and the threats they face sets the context for this research which uses two approaches to better understand the nature of the threat that fishing (particularly bottom tending gears) poses to cold water corals along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Recent proposed Federal legislation related to cold water corals as well as existing laws with potential application to this issue were analyzed, and the application of the precautionary approach was examined.
In considering how best to address fishing impacts on cold water corals along the U.S. Atlantic coast, this research indicates that damage in certain fisheries and from some gears may be declining, but that the target species are changing. There is a need to explore approaches beyond fisheries management as mechanisms to protect these highly diverse and potentially economically significant ecosystems, while in the meantime ensuring full use of the existing legal authorities.
|Commitee:||Anderson, Lee, Bruckner, Andrew|
|School:||University of Delaware|
|School Location:||United States -- Delaware|
|Source:||MAI 47/06M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Biological oceanography, Environmental science, Aquatic sciences|
|Keywords:||Cold water corals, Conservation, Deep sea corals, Fishing impacts, Precautionary approach|
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