Issues in deep-sea conservation
The deep sea is defined here as those areas beyond the continental shelf break where water depths are typically greater than 200 metres. Waters of over 1 000 m deep cover an estimated 62% of the planet’s surface, forming one of the last great wilderness areas on earth. Only within the last few decades has technology advanced sufficiently to effectively map this environment, revealing extensive and diverse habitats of conservation interest and economic value. Concurrently, human activity, most notably fishing, has continually expanded from coastal waters with great increases in the amount of activity and depths of operations since the 1950s. Fishing activities are increasingly affecting the deep ocean, to the extent that quantifiable changes in fish stocks and damage to benthic habitats have now been recorded around the world.
Here we summarise some of the issues that are emerging in the field of deep-sea conservation.