A mostly underwater mountain range in the Pacific Ocean devastated by overfishing and trawling is now making a comeback thanks to some strident federal protection.
Throughout the decades of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain was a popular location for commercial fishing. A particularly popular practice at the time was trawling, where heavy nets are dragged along the seafloor to capture fish or prawns. In the process they also drag up other marine life and destroy corals on the seafloor.
In the years since, the ecological impacts of trawling have become clear as researchers have documented the devastation wreaked by the practice around the world. The impacts are so pronounced that scientists collectively came to the conclusion that ecological recovery in areas affected by trawling was unlikely.
Fortunately, the case of the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount may be proving otherwise. A group of researchers from Florida State University collected and analysed around 536,000 images of the area’s seabed, finding not only the visible impact of trawling but also regrowing coral and increasing populations of fauna.
These positive results are incredibly promising for other seamounts around the world affected by trawling as they show the rehabilitative effect of long-term government protection. The United States claimed the Hawaiian seamount as part of its U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in 1977, preventing foreign fleets from trawling the area and protecting it from human disturbance. The positive results after forty years of security afforded to the area show long-term government protection is something that could be implemented in other seamounts with similar results.
- Do your bit to protect Australia’s amazing marine environment by ensuring your waste is disposed of responsibly. Visit RecyclingNearYou to find out if particular items can be recycled in your local area.
- Coral reefs are a critical part of overall ocean health, occupying just 0.1% of the world’s oceans but supporting 25% of its marine species. If you are worried about the health of Australian reefs, contact your local member of parliament and let them know you would like to see it protected.
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.