More and more people are beginning to recognize the critical importance of preserving deep-sea corals. In waters under national jurisdiction as well as in the high seas, these fragile ecosystems are beginning to receive some attention.
One effective way of protecting deep-sea coral habitats from physical damage caused by fishing gear is by establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) that restrict use of specific fishing gear types. Several such areas have already been created in Alaska and off the west and southeastern coasts of the continental United States. In 2013, Chile became the first country to protect all seamounts from bottom trawling. Unfortunately, however, MPAs cannot protect deep-sea corals from the damage caused by environmental changes such as ocean acidification.
There are many important reasons to preserve deep-sea corals—including the rich biodiversity of the habitats they create, their critical ecological role, and the valuable history of Earth’s ancient climate recorded within them. If you want to contribute to the effort to protect these unique and fragile habitats, here are some things you can do.
●Don’t buy jewelry or curios made from deep-sea corals.
●Make seafood choices that support wise and sustainable fishing practices.
●Reduce the amount of carbon you add to the air.
●Support organizations that are working for coral protection.