Future research

There is still a significant amount of research needed within the field of cold-water coral ecology and the levels of threats facing these habitats continue to drive international efforts. More research is needed into the threats that will affect reefs in the future, for instance plans to sequester carbon stores into the deep sea. A similar situation exists for the expansion of offshore energy resource and fishing pressure. Legislation will be imperative to current and future protective measures and will require good cooperation from governments to enforce in the long-term. Measures such as the proposed ban on bottom trawling by the UN will be required to ensure some reefs are left intact and allowed to recover. Undermining the implementation of these measures is a lack of basic ecological knowledge relevant to reproductive biology and resilience of cold-water corals. It appears that technology in the form of modelling, molecular studies and in-situ studies will prove to be invaluable tools for tackling this. Studies are beginning to focus on the future of cold-water reefs but there is still great uncertainty as to the fate of these deep-sea habitats. Only time will tell if management decisions made today will be enough to protect cold-water coral reefs for the future.

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