Vulnerable marine ecosystem advice released – ICES

Advice issued on vulnerable marine ecosystems draws on information from new ICES database.

Published: 5 July 2016

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Released today, the advice sees an ICES review of new evidence for the occurrence of vulnerable marine ecosystems – deep-sea habitats such as cold-water coral reefs and clusters of deep-sea sponges that are particularly susceptible to bottom-contact fishing gear – across the Regulatory Area of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). In line with earlier years, the advice states that while most bottom fishing takes place within NEAFC fishing areas, there is some evidence of activity within areas closed to protect vulnerable habitats as well as outside fishing areas on the Hatton and Rockall banks. The data forming the backbone of the advice were derived from a central portal launched in February this year and are presented on a new map, currently available as a beta version. The hub contains data which show the distribution and abundance of these vulnerable ecosystems, records for which there is clear evidence for a VME, and indicators, animals and plants whose occurrence suggests the presence of this type of ecosystem to varying degrees of certainty. Click here to read more

Assessing the sensitivity of the sea floor – ICES

Advice released on approach to carry forward sea floor sensitivity mapping for Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

ICES Published: 4 July 2016

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The sea floor is far from a homogenous landscape. Differing substrates, depths, and environmental conditions ensure diverse habitats that accommodate many species above, on, and below the seabed. Maintaining the integrity of the sea floor is an essential part of conserving marine biodiversity and living resources and is addressed by Descriptor 6 (D6) of the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Different habitats in the benthic ecosystem have differing levels of sensitivity and the pressures from human activities impact to varying degrees. Having a variety of different indicators and methods is essential for assessing the state of benthic ecosystems if a robust picture of the seafloor and the changes that can be imposed by human activities is to be formed

Highly sensitive areas of the seafloor including cold-water corals are known as vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs). These cannot endure any impact from pressures such as trawling, and once documented, are often protected from interference from human activities (for example through the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs). Click here to read more

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