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New Research Area For NOAA

US - The southern third of NOAAs 22-square mile Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the Georgia coast has been designated a research area, where scientists can study how human activities and natural processes affect the sanctuarys marine resources. The new designation will take effect after a 45-day Congressional review.

This new research area is specifically designed for conducting controlled scientific studies where human activities cannot affect the results. Fishing and diving will be prohibited in the lightly used, 8-square mile research area, which currently hosts no commercial fishing. Vessels will be permitted to travel through it without stopping.

Scientists will be able to design and implement habitat studies where critical variables can be controlled over long periods of time. The research area will provide managers with the high-caliber science needed to improve understanding of the effects of human activities on the sanctuarys natural resources. The designated research area is relatively free of human activity, and therefore, it can be studied and compared to the rest of the sanctuary.

The research area will help scientists study how natural events such as hurricanes and droughts affect the sanctuary, and serve as a place to monitor and study the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.

Having an area where scientists can compare natural processes with human-induced change in the sanctuary will help us better understand how humans affect live-bottom habitats like Grays Reef, said George Sedberry, sanctuary superintendent.

the Fish Site Editor

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