MPAs on the High Seas

daemon at daemon at
Tue Oct 28 15:34:36 EST 1997

Dear    :

I am sending the attached letter to as many in the deep-sea scientific
community as I have addresses for. For those who have difficulty converting
the attachment, it is copied below but the table at the end will not be

I am the scientific representative on the IUCN High Seas MPA Working Group.
Our group is working to establish marine protected areas (MPAs) in
international waters (i.e. areas on the high seas.beyond coastal states'
EEZ). I am currently writing a report to the IUCN that will likely serve as
the basis of an international meeting, possibly jointly sponsored by IUCN
and IOC, that will consider the matter more fully. Your comments and
specific recommendations would be appreciated.

At recent meetings of the IUCN (World Conservation Congress, October 1996)
and Deep Sea Biology Symposium (September 1997), it was agreed that our
Group initially focus on identifying and protecting areas on the high seas
having unique faunas, areas presently or potentially threatened by man's
activity, or areas of significant scientific interest.

=46our types of areas have been identified for potential protected status:
        =85 seamounts with their associated deepwater coral and fish communi=
        =85 deep-sea vent and smoker communities;
        =85 deepwater cold seep communities; and
        =85 areas of particular scientific interest, e.g. long-term study si=

Deepwater corals and fish (e.g. orange roughy, armourhead) associated with
seamounts on the high seas have been subjected to intense unregulated
commercial exploitation. The status of these communites is severely
threatened. Seamount-associated species typically have highly localized
distributions and extreme life histories - many live on the order of a
hundred years. Once overexploited, recovery is a long and uncertain

Deep-sea seeps, vents and smokers are often associated with deposits of
hydrocarbons or minerals. Future exploitation of these deposits could
threaten the continuance of associated biological communities, again due to
their localized distribution.

Several deep-sea sites are the subject of long-term or repeated studies.
Internationally-recognized, protected status needs to be granted to
selected sites where long-term natural variation in deep-sea ecosystems can
be studied.

The IUCN has requested that we submit a list of proposed sites for
protected status. The list should contain representatives from all major
ocean basins, since there is considerable endemism in these communities.

I am seeking advice from yourself and other deep-sea scientists. Have we
selected the right types of high sea environments for protected status on
the high seas? If not, what would you suggest?

Are there specific sites you would nominate as high-seas MPAs? If so,
specify location (lat, long), type of area and reason for its nomination.
Several sites have already been nominated and they are included in the
table below for your consideration.

Noting how little is known about biological communities in the deep sea,
several scientists have commented that it is premature to determine their
conservation requirements. However, some deep-sea habitats, such as
seamounts, are already severely disturbed by overexploitation, and recent
technological developments (e.g. improved seafloor mapping, GPS,
net-monitoring systems, etc) render them even more accessible to commercial
exploitation, as attested to by the global increase in deepwater fishing
activity. Precautionary steps toward their conservation need to be taken
prior to obtaining full knowledge. The IUCN proposal should be viewed as  a
first step toward conservation of the deep sea, and as a spur to further
study of its biodiversity and conservation requirements.

        Seamounts       Vents/
smokers Seeps   Scientific sites
N Atlantic
        Great Meteor
30=B0 N, 28=B0 W                    E of Meteor
(30=B0 N,m 25=B0 W),
Rockall Trough,
(54=B040'N, 12=B010'W;
57=B010'N, 10=B020'W)
Porcupine Seabight
S Atlantic

N Pacific

S Pacific
                                08=B004'S, 88=B027'W (mining study area)
Indian Ocean
        Carlsberg Ridge (area to be selected)
Southern Ocean

Yours sincerely,

Tony Koslow

Attachment converted: LMS-A:IUCN (WDBN/MSWD) (0000BEEF)
Tony Koslow
CSIRO Division of Fisheries                   Tel: (61 3) 62325 358
GPO Box 1538                                         FAX:  (61 3) 62325 000
Hobart, Tasmania 7001  Australia         email:Tony.Koslow at

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