Coral Management Plans
The FMP/DEIS, completed in 1982, described the coral communities throughout the jurisdictions of the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils (1). The FMP prohibited harvest of stony coral and seafans except by scientific permit. It established Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPC) in the Gulf and Atlantic where the use of any fishing gear interfacing with the bottom was prohibited. It regulated the use of chemicals used by fish collectors near coral reefs. It established a data reporting system for permitees.
Amendment 1, completed in 1990, established the total allowable harvest (TAC) for commercial harvesters of gorgonians (soft coral) at 50,000 colonies annually. It established permits and reporting requirements for persons landing gorgonians commercially. It established a permitting requirement and landing limit for non-commercial harvesters (i.e., 6 colonies).
Amendment 2, implemented December 21, 1994, established area closures, vessel trip limits, gear restrictions, permits and reporting for live rock harvest and aquaculture, restricted access, a phase-out of harvest by 1997, and a redefinition of octocorals.
Amendment 3 with supplementary documents was prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to provide additional management to the harvest of live rock in the Gulf of Mexico. Live rock is an assemblage of living marine organisms attached to a hard substrate such as dead coral or limestone. This amendment considers further live rock regulation including an annual quota during phase-out, revision of trip limits, closed area off Florida's Panhandle, redefinition of allowable octocorals, and limited personal use live rock harvest.
This amendment is to all seven (7) FMPs. It describes the habitat constituting that essential for each life history stage of 26 representative species, which result in most of the landings from the Gulf. It describes the habitat types and distribution, threats to these habitats, predator-prey relationships, factors resulting in EFH losses, conservation and enhancement measures for EFH, and recommendations to minimize impacts from non-fishing threats.