Three different types of corals live in the deep sea – soft, stony or black. Soft corals (or octocorals) often look like colorful undersea gardens of pink, red, and white. They grow in many different forms, including branching sea fans. From a distance they look like bushes or trees, sometimes reaching 2 meters tall.
Last year, UNEP designated the “Ocean – Dead or Alive” as the central theme of World Environment Day (5 June) and the publication of the report “Cold Water Corals – Out of Sight but no Longer Out of Mind”, stressed the need to protect cold water corals.
Seeking to protect deep-sea coral beds and other sensitive fish habitat, a US federal fishing council banned bottom trawling this month over more than 370,000 square miles off Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, the largest such action taken anywhere in the world.
The European General Affairs Council has just adopted a proposal from the European Commission for urgent measures to protect deep sea coral reefs around the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands.
Addressing national leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly Sebastian Anefal, the Federated States of Micronesia’s Foreign Minister reiterated the call made on 23 September by Palau’s Vice President, Sandra Pierantozzi for a moratorium on deep sea bottom trawling.
In a letter to EU Fisheries Minister Franz Fischler and the External Affairs, Environment and Fisheries Ministers of all EU Member States, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition expressed deep concern “if the European Union were to advocate that the UN FAO and/or Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) take the lead in resolving this issue.”
New York – Many countries are failing to live up to their commitments to the United Nations (UN) to protect vulnerable deep sea species and ecosystems, according to two reports released today ahead of a two day debate on deep sea fisheries by the UN in New York.