Parties to the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic should take measures to control human impacts in marine protected areas. Action is being urged in advance of the upcoming OSPAR meeting in Cascais, Portugal, beginning June 23.
The 15 OSPAR Convention countries and the European Union adopted the world’s first network of high seas marine protected areas around the Mid-Atlantic ridge in 2010. Despite this recognition, there are currently no measures to control harmful activity in the areas except a temporary closure to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems on the seafloor from bottom fishing. Even this measure is thwarted in some locations.
Fishing of deep water and pelagic stocks remains unrestricted, as do maritime transport and potential extraction of minerals from the seabed. The lack of protection puts a wealth of wildlife at risk, including deep-water sharks and rays, peculiar squids and octopuses, sponge aggregations and cold-water coral reefs.