NOAA to develop strategy to protect coral and sponge habitat



The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will develop a strategy to address research, conservation, and management issues regarding deep-ocean coral and sponge habitat, the agency indicated in an 11 July Federal Register notice. The Service, which is a unit of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicated that this strategy “eventually may result in rulemaking for some fisheries” but that “emergency rulemaking is not warranted.”

The NMFS announcement is in response to a 24 March 2004 petition to the Commerce Department filed by Oceana, a non-governmental organization. That petition urged the department through NMFS to “initiate immediate rulemaking” to protect coral and sponge habitats in the U.S. exclusive economic zone through mapping, monitoring, research, and enforcement measures.