Deep-sea ecosystems still under threat despite UN protection

Date: July 29, 2016

Source: New Scientist

Author: Fred Pearce

They aren’t the most famous ecosystems. Few people hit the streets to protect the Louisville ridge, the Josephine seamount or the Flemish Cap – the ecological marvels found on the floor of the deep ocean.

But being out of sight doesn’t mean they are out of harm’s way.  These wonders of the deep are threatened by a new generation of fishing trawlers that scrape nets along the deep-sea floor – a process that destroys deep-sea species and ecosystems – and the failure of international pledges over the past decade to keep these sites off-limits.

Not good for the sea bed
Brian Skerry/National Geographic

Next week the UN General Assembly will meet in New York to assess progress on implementing resolutions passed since 2004 to stop deep-sea fishing fleets damaging sea-floor ecosystems. The UN resolutions were intended to protect the high seas – vast swathes of ocean that fall outside national control – and to be implemented by international fisheries organisations.

But while some progress has been made, a new study finds that many rich ecosystems on the sea bed are still under threat from trawling.


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