Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Maps, Management Tools, and Educational Resources

Photo: G.P. Schmal FGBNMS
Have you ever scoured the internet in search of new fishing spots? Tried to figure out where you can or can’t fish? Do you ever research a particular species or habitat in the Gulf of Mexico? Do you wonder about the information and decision-making process behind fishing regulations? If so, we’re delighted to share a resource that may help you find all of those things in one place.

The Gulf Council has recently remodeled its Coral Portal, a website that houses a range of interactive maps, tools for making management decisions, and educational resources. Development of the site is funded by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the project aims to share environmental information associated with corals and fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico with folks who use the Gulf for business, recreation, and research.

Click here to visit the coral portal:

Resources on the Portal are organized in three different categories:

Coral Viewer
This suite of interactive maps allows you to explore management areas and different known habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. To highlight a few, the Fishery Management Areas Map shows jurisdictional boundaries and areas in the Gulf with fishing restrictions. The Spiny Lobster Closed Area map highlights the areas off the Florida Keys where lobster traps are prohibited to protect threated staghorn and elkhorn corals. There are also a number of maps devoted specifically to coral including: The Coral Viewer which shows known coral areas in the Gulf, the Coral HAPC Explorer which shows the locations of current and recommended coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, and the Predictive Modeling of Deep-Sea Coral Habitat Map which uses factors like depth, bottom shape, and salinity, to predict where deep water corals may exist.

Proposed HAPC's in Coral Amendment 9 
This section of the Portal focuses on tools that highlight management issues being considered by the Gulf Council. Currently, you’ll find a summary of the 5-year review of Essential Fish Habitat that was recently completed, including profiles of federally managed species and their habitat associations. You’ll also find a management tool that will help to inform you about Coral Amendment 9 – which considers establishing new deep-water coral protections in the Gulf. You can analyze management actions being considered by the Gulf Council using the map tool that highlights potential Habitat Areas of Particular Concern. This section of the Coral Portal will be updated as new management measures are considered.

Lionfish Storyboard
Here you’ll find a variety of different resources designed to enhance your understanding of corals, habitats, and the species linked to them. There are interactive articles on topics like lionfish, goliath, and coral management. Additionally, you’ll find a link to the Portal blog which is jam packed with posts on different habitats. Finally, you’ll find clickable posters that display creatures and habitats of the deep Gulf of Mexico.

New material is added frequently, so check back in to see what we’ve been working on.

As you explore the resources on the updated Coral Portal please let us know what you think. We would love to hear what’s working (or not) and what other tools you may find useful. Contact us at with questions, comments, and suggestions.