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What may be the Earth’s largest deepwater coral ecosystem lies just off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

The 25,000-square-mile area is home to an immense number of marine species. The underwater world is critical to marine life while also allowing for exploration in biopharmaceuticals.

Last week, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council made its final vote to protect the reefs. The plan calls for an innovative balance between protecting critical habitats while allowing fishermen continued access to traditional fishing grounds.

The one stipulation for the fishing boats is that they used engine gears that do minimal damage to reefs. This type of agreement is a first for fishery councils in the U.S.

Follow up action by the regional council will be held in Charleston, SC next week. This meeting culminates more than 10 years of collaboration between scientists, managers, conservationists and fishermen.

The fragile reefs lie 1,000 feet or more below the ocean’s surface. Individual colonies may be more than 1,000 years old and individual coral mounds may be more than one million years old.

The partnership between all players and the ongoing teamwork and understanding is a model situation for all competing businesses. It is a prime example that two opposing businesses can come to an agreement and coexist on agreeable terms.

Watch the video here: The EDF.

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