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Webinar: Restoration activities planned for mesophotic and deep benthic communities

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Thursday, 23 January 2020, 3:30

Thursday, January 23, 2020. 3:30PM. Webinar: Restoration activities planned for mesophotic and deep benthic communities. Kris Benson, NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center. Sponsored by NOAA. More information here.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused natural resource injuries in US waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida. Federal and state agencies (Trustees) are utilizing funds from a Natural Resources Damage Assessment settlement to restore those natural resources and the services they provide. The Trustees have released a draft restoration plan that includes four proposed projects at an approximate cost of $126 million to help restore mesophotic and deep benthic communities (MDBC) injured by the oil spill. The projects were developed with substantial public input and evaluated against regulatory criteria and Trustee priorities beginning in 2017, by a team of subject matter experts from across the Trustee agencies. The projects comprise an integrated portfolio of activities to be implemented at an unprecedented scope and scale over a 7-8 year period, in an iterative approach to improving understanding of and restoring these communities. The project portfolio encompasses a) mapping, ground-truthing, and predictive habitat modeling; b) habitat assessment and evaluation; c) active management and protection; and d) development of coral propagation techniques. Implementation of the restoration portfolio will substantively advance science supporting restoration, conservation, and management related to MDBC. The emphasis on monitoring and adaptive management in the project recommendations reflects the need for information about these communities to inform or augment efforts at establishing protections and management for them or actively restoring them. The restoration plan incorporates a phased approach to project implementation intended to allow for detailed planning for the large and complex suite of activities as well as engagement with a broad array of entities involved in mesophotic and deep coral restoration and science, to address critical uncertainties and inform adaptive decision-making as the projects develop further and are implemented over time.

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