Madison/Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Marine Reserves (Figure 4.1) - No-take marine reserves sited on gag spawning aggregation areas where all fishing except for surface trolling during May through October is prohibited (219 square nautical miles).
Tortugas North and South Marine Reserves (Figure 4.1) - No-take marine reserves cooperatively implemented by the state of Florida, National Ocean Survey (NOS), the Council, and the National Park Service (see jurisdiction on chart) (185 square nautical miles). In addition, Generic Amendment 3 for addressing EFH requirements, Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPC), and adverse effects of fishing in the following FMPs of the GOM: Shrimp, Red Drum, Reef Fish, Stone Crab, Coral and Coral Reefs in the GOM and Spiny Lobster and the Coastal Migratory Pelagic resources of the GOM and South Atlantic (GMFMC 2005a) prohibited the use of anchors in these HAPCs.
Individual reef areas and bank HAPCs of the northwestern GOM including: East and West Flower Garden Banks, Stetson Bank, Sonnier Bank, MacNeil Bank, 29 Fathom, Rankin Bright Bank, Geyer Bank, McGrail Bank, Bouma Bank, Rezak Sidner Bank, Alderice Bank, and Jakkula Bank (Figures 4.1 and 4.4) - Pristine coral areas protected by preventing use of some fishing gear that interacts with the bottom (263.2 square nautical miles). Subsequently, some of these areas were made a marine sanctuary by NOS and this marine sanctuary is currently being revised. Bottom anchoring and the use of trawling gear, bottom longlines, buoy gear, and all traps/pots on coral reefs are prohibited in the East and West Flower Garden Banks, McGrail Bank, and on the significant coral resources on Stetson Bank.
Florida Middle Grounds HAPC (Figure 4.1) - Pristine soft coral area protected from use of any fishing gear interfacing with bottom (348 square nautical miles).
Pulley Ridge HAPC (Figure 4.5) - A portion of the HAPC where deep-water hermatypic coral reefs are found is closed to anchoring and the use of trawling gear, bottom longlines, buoy gear, and all traps/pots (2,300 square nautical miles).
Stressed Areas for Reef Fish (Figure 4.1) - Permanent closure Gulf-wide of the near shore waters to use of fish traps, power heads, and roller trawls (i.e., “rock hopper trawls”) (48,400 square nautical miles).
Alabama Special Management Zone (SMZ) (Figure 4.6) In the Alabama SMZ, fishing by a vessel operating as a charter vessel or headboat, a vessel that does not have a commercial permit for Gulf reef fish, or a vessel with such a permit fishing for Gulf reef fish, is limited to hook-and-line gear with no more than 3 hooks. Nonconforming gear is restricted to bag limits, or for reef fish without a bag limit, to 5% by weight of all fish aboard.
Additionally, Generic Amendment 3 for addressing EFH requirements (GMFMC 2005a) requires a weak link in the tickler chain of bottom trawls on all habitats throughout the GOM EEZ. A weak link is defined as a length or section of the tickler chain that has a breaking strength less than the chain itself and is easily seen as such when visually inspected. Also, the amendment establishes an education program on the protection of coral reefs when using various fishing gears in coral reef areas for recreational and commercial fishermen.
4.2 Biological Environment