The economical value of the ocean’s resources to man throughout history is immense and constantly expanding with increasing human activity for example fishing (Davies et al. 2007).Despite its vast area (60% of the earth’s solid surface) the deep sea floor is particularly susceptible detrimental anthropogenic activities, such as waste disposal (Scheckenbach et al. 2010).
Due to the low levels of food influx originating from primary production in surface waters, the biomass of the deep sea is only 1% of terrestrial and shallow water ecosystems (Glover and Smith 2003). This limited biomass supports a wide diversity of unique flora and fauna and will be impacted by any significant mortality. Low levels of organic food and temperature in the deep sea environment result in slow growth rates of deep sea organism, thus any impact to deep sea populations will take a long to time to recover.
Echinoderms on the abyssal plain are currently threaten by anthropogenic threats such as hydrocarbon and mineral extraction (mining and drilling), climate change and waste disposal (Figure 7; Davies et al. 2007). Each of these impacts proposes different threats to the deep sea floor and resident echinoderm species and is discussed individually in subsequent sections.