The New England Fishery Management Council cast a vote in favor of protections on Wednesday. The council also voted to allow some lobster fishing in the coral zones.
If it’s approved at the council’s June meeting, the exemption would allow lobster fishing in coral protection zones on Mount Desert Rock and Outer Schoodic Ridge. The Portland Press Herald reports Maine boats bring in more than $4 million in lobster from those areas per year.
The council has spent two years developing regulations to protect coral gardens that are found on steep rock walls in the deep waters of the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Researchers say fishing has damaged the coral habitats.