Application of scientific criteria for identifying hydrothermal ecosystems in need of protection

Type Article
Date 2021-10
Language English
Author(s) Gollner S.1, Colaço Ana2, Gebruk A.3, Halpin P.N.4, Higgs N.5, Menini E.4, Mestre N.C.6, Qian P.-Y.7, Sarrazin JozeeORCID8, Szafranski K.9, 10, Van Dover C.L.4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Ocean Systems, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Utrecht University, Den Burg, Netherlands
2 : Okeanos Centre & Institute of Marine Research (IMAR), University of the Azores, 9901-862 Horta, Portugal
3 : Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Nakhimovsky Pr. 36, Moscow 117997, Russia
4 : Division of Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States
5 : Cape Eleuthera Institute, Rock Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas
6 : Centre for Marine and Environmental Research (CIMA), Universidade do Algarve, Campus Universitário de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
7 : Department of Ocean Science, Division of Life Science and Hong Kong Branch of Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong
8 : Ifremer, REM/EEP, F-29280 Plouzané, France
9 : InterRidge Office, Universite de Paris, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, UMR CNRS 7154, 1 rue Jussieu, 75005 Paris, France
10 : Polish Academy of Sciences - Scientific Center in Paris, 74, rue Lauriston, 75116 Paris, France
Source Marine Policy (0308-597X) (Elsevier BV), 2021-10 , Vol. 132 , P. 104641 (12p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.marpol.2021.104641
WOS© Times Cited 12
Keyword(s) Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas, (EBSAs), Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs), Deep-sea mining, Hydrothermal vents

Deep-sea hydrothermal vent fields are globally rare (abundant in numbers, but extremely small in area) and are rich in extraordinary life based on chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis. Vent fields are also sources of polymetallic sulfides rich in copper and other metals. Mineral resources of the international seabed beyond national jurisdictions (referred to as the “Area”) are administered by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which has the mandate to organize and control mineral resource-related activities and to ensure effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects which may arise from such activities. To date, the ISA has approved 3 contracts for mineral exploration on the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge (nMAR) and is developing a Regional Environmental Management Plan (REMPs) for polymetallic sulfide resources in the Area of northern MAR, including the application of area-based management tools to address the potential impacts of mining activities. Several intergovernmental organizations have developed suites of criteria to identify vulnerable, sensitive, and ecologically or biologically significant ecosystems in need of protection. In this case study, we combine criteria developed by FAO for VMEs (Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems), by CBD for EBSAs (Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas), and by IMO for PSSAs (Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas) to assess whether the 11 confirmed vent fields on the nMAR may meet these criteria. Our assessment indicates that all vent fields meet multiple criteria for vulnerability, sensitivity, and ecological or biological significance, and 10 of 11 vent fields meet all criteria for ecosystems in need of protection.

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Gollner S., Colaço Ana, Gebruk A., Halpin P.N., Higgs N., Menini E., Mestre N.C., Qian P.-Y., Sarrazin Jozee, Szafranski K., Van Dover C.L. (2021). Application of scientific criteria for identifying hydrothermal ecosystems in need of protection. Marine Policy, 132, 104641 (12p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :