The New England Fishery Management Council is conducting seven public hearings to solicit comments on the alternatives under consideration in the Draft Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment. More specifically, the Council is seeking feedback from the public on which alternatives should be selected and why. These hearings are being held by the Council in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The Council plans to take final action on the amendment during its June 20-22, 2017 meeting in Portland, Maine.
Deep-sea corals are fragile, slow-growing organisms that play an important role in the marine ecosystem and are vulnerable to various types of disturbance of the seafloor. The alternatives in the amendment are designed to reduce the potential impacts of fishing activity on corals, as allowed under the Council’s discretionary authority. Restrictions on bottom-tending gear are being considered, with possible exemptions for some or all types of fixed gears. Potential coral management areas are located off the eastern Maine coast, in Jordan Basin and Georges Basin in the offshore Gulf of Maine, and in the canyon and slope region south of Georges Bank.
During each hearing, Council staff will brief the public on the draft amendment before receiving comments. The hearings will begin promptly at the time indicated above. If all attendees who wish to do so have provided their comments prior to the end time indicated, the hearing may conclude early. To the extent possible, the Council may extend hearings beyond the end time indicated above to accommodate all attendees who wish to speak.
Documents will be posted on the Council’s website http://www.nefmc.org/library/omnibus-deep-sea-coral-amendment. For questions, contact the office at (978) 465-0492.
Members of the public may submit oral and/or written comments at any of the public hearings or submit written comments directly to the Council. Written comments must be received on or before close of business, Monday, June 5, 2017. Please note on your correspondence “Comments on Deep-Sea Coral Amendment”. Written comments received on or before Wednesday, May 24 at close of business, as well as comments provided at the hearings, will be reviewed by the Council’s Habitat Committee on May 30 (see separate notice for information about this meeting).
Written comments should be sent to:
Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director
New England Fishery Management Council
50 Water Street, Mill 2
Newburyport, MA 01950
Fax (978) 465–3116