In recent years there has been increased interest, both within Canada and the international community, to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems from anthropogenic serious adverse impacts. Cold-water corals (class Anthozoa) are of particular interest due to the role corals play in providing biogenic habitat as well as their limited capacity to recover from disturbance. A lack of information on the distribution of cold-water coral in British Columbia (BC) limits our ability to evaluate the extent and intensity of fishing activity in coral habitat. In this document, suitable habitat for four orders of cold-water coral (Alcyonacea, Antipatharia, Pennatulacea, and Scleractinia) is predicted using the species distribution modelling tool Maxent. The extent of overlap between the fishing footprints of three bottom-contact fisheries (groundfish trawl, sablefish longline, and sablefish trap) and predicted suitable coral habitat is determined. Depending on the order, fishing effort has occurred on 30.4 to 46.5% of predicted habitat, with effort being disproportionately concentrated in areas of predicted coral habitat. Results suggest that cold-water coral habitat in BC requires protection from fishing activity to guarantee the long-term viability of coral populations.
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