Conclusions – What is a MPA and why do we need more?

The obvious evidence of destruction to cold-water corals has caused governments to start protecting these fascinating environments. Corals are key ecosystems, harbouring life in the deep to a huge array of marine species, they also have scientific importance in terms of pharmaceutical developments. 

Anthropogenic activity, in particular bottom trawling is causing many species to be removed before they have even been discovered (Roberts et al. 2006). Some cold-water coral sites have already been declared no fishing areas these include Norway, NW Britain, Florida and the Tasman Sea mounts (Rogers 2004). Increased management and research is needed to keep protecting these fragile habitats.  So far protection is only occurring in waters under national jurisdiction, that leaves 64% of the ocean unprotected in the high seas where free exploitation is approved (URL 1). A procedure needs to be globally obtained to protect these corals. (Roberts et al. 2006).

The World Wildlife Fund views marine protected areas (MPA’s) as “one component in a broader approach” to acheiving this international protection (URL 1). Marine protected areas are designed to protect an ecosystems habitats and species by a range of measurements set up to reduce human impacts. This will allow for restoration of the environment, maintaining its biodiversity and habitats; ultimately creating a safe haven for recovery (URL 1). 

In Alaska this ecosystem approach has already been put into action, Alaska’s government views cold-water corals as a habitat of special concern creating large no fishing zones in areas of coral growth (URL 1). These are proactive steps that will eventually lead to conserving cold-water corals on an international scale, outside of territorial waters. To do this conservation measures need to be developed using the United Nations convention on the Laws of the Sea (Roberts et al. 2006).

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