NOAA Plans Next Deep-Sea Coral Research Initiative in Alaskan Waters

[From Deep-Sea Life 15]

Heather Coleman

NOAA Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program

From May 12-15, 2020, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program (DSCRTP) and Alaska Fisheries Science Center hosted a virtual workshop to determine priorities for their new research initiative. The DSCRTP supports rotating four-year research initiatives around the country, and the next initiative focuses on deep-sea coral and sponge research in Alaskan waters from 2021-2022. Workshop breakout sessions focused on shared priorities for coral and sponge distribution, population dynamics, genetics, effects of climate change and human activities, mapping, and data mining. The workshop gave DSCRTP and partners a better understanding of resources available to facilitate deep-sea research, known coral and sponge habitats in the region, and potential pathways for sharing the knowledge and  information to be acquired from the initiative. Sixty participants represented multiple NOAA offices, the Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management, Alaskan tribal governments, the North Pacific Research Board, universities, fishing industries, and environmental NGOs. The Alaska Deep-Sea Coral Initiative plans to support research activities in 2021 and 2022, and to focus on data analysis in 2023.

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