On 13 October 2015 the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) hosted a science and conservation event focused on exploring the value of Europe’s unique underwater ecosystems.
Chaired by Chris Yesson from ZSL, the evening consisted of presentations by internationally renowned scientists and policy advisors, who all shed light on the importance of deep-sea marine habitats.
David Bailey from the University of Glasgow, UK, started the evening by discussing the effects of deep-water fishing on fish assemblages. He also justified creating a depth ban of 600 meters for bottom trawling by explaining its large and unselective impact on fish communities.
Mr Bailey expanded this position with recent discoveries from the ground-breaking study A Scientific Basis for Regulating Deep-Sea Fishing by Depth, published in Current Biology, which he co-authored. Its results suggested that a bottom trawl ban of 600m would be appropriate to provide protection to deep-sea organisms and provide proper deep-sea conservation.
Claire Armstrong from Uit The Arctic University of Norway then presented her recent work on the multitude of services that the deep sea provides. Ms Armstrong explained that although the public has had little exposure to cold-water corals, there is still a widespread desire to properly protect them as important habitats for fish. The findings of her research pinpointed the need for ecosystem-based management, as opposed to focusing solely on fisheries management.
Clive Trueman from the University of Southampton, UK, delivered his research on the carbon capture and storage roles of fish ecosystems on the continental slope. Mr Trueman highlighted the vital ecosystem services that deep-water communities play in fish-based carbon capture and storage. His work has valued the contribution of demersal fishes on the UK continental slope at 1 million tonnes of CO2.
Finally, Matthew Gianni, co-founder of and policy advisor for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, discussed the politics of protecting the deep sea from the harmful impacts of fisheries within the European Union. While there is general recognition from policy-makers that reform of the current deep-sea fishing regulation is needed, the process has suffered from a multitude of delays. Negotiations are currently taking place within the European Council and Mr Gianni emphasized the importance of banning deep-sea bottom trawling at 600m, and other important recommendations.
You can find a copy of Matthew Gianni’s presentation here:
The politics of protecting the deep-sea from the harmful impacts of fisheries. Are the EU’s fisheries Ministries up to the task?
More information can be found at http://www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/the-conservation-value-of-european-deep-sea-habitats