Impact of fishing on marine habitats
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COMPLICATION: Coastal ocean aquaculture can be environmentally sustainable

COMPLICATION: Coastal ocean aquaculture can be environmentally sustainable | Impact of fishing on marine habitats |

Specific types of fish farming can be accomplished with minimal or no harm to the coastal ocean environment as long as proper planning and safeguards are in place, according to a new report from researchers at NOAA’s National Ocean Service.


The study, led by scientists at National Ocean Service’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), evaluated the environmental effects of finfish aquaculture, including interactions with water quality, benthic habitats, and marine life across various farming practices and habitat types.


“We did this study because of concerns that putting marine finfish farms in the coastal ocean could have adverse effects on the environment,” said Dr. James Morris, NCCOS ecologist. “We found that, in cases where farms are appropriately sited and responsibly managed, impacts to the environment are minimal to non-existent.”


“This report provides coastal and farm managers with a global perspective on a range of potential environmental effects and their relative intensity,” said Dr. Michael Rubino, director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture. “It is a tool that can be used when evaluating proposed or operational farming sites and gives them a factual basis to make decisions.”


In the report, scientists said that continued development of regional best-management practices and standardized protocols for environmental monitoring are key needs for aquaculture managers. As aquaculture development increases in the coastal ocean, the ability to forecast immediate or long-term environmental concerns will provide confidence to coastal managers and the public.


“This report contributes to the growing body of evidence supporting marine aquaculture as a sustainable source of safe, healthy and local seafood that supports jobs in coastal communities,” said Sam Rauch, acting assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries.


The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science is the coastal science office for NOAA’s National Ocean Service. Visit our website or follow our blog to read more about NCCOS research.


NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.





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UNITED KINGDOM: EU's largest marine protected area

UNITED KINGDOM: EU's largest marine protected area | Impact of fishing on marine habitats |
Five new offshore Special Areas of Conservation proposed.


The Scottish Government has submitted proposals to the EU that include plans for Europe’s largest marine area of nature conservation in waters west of Scotland.


The designation of Hatton Bank as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), located approximately 500 km west of Lewis, would cover an area of 15,694 square kilometres – more than 10 times the size of Fife.


Hatton Bank would form part of a package of five new SACs in offshore waters to the west and north of Scotland. The new sites would collectively cover an area larger than the entire Highlands region and contribute to the Marine Protected Areas network, an EU requirement under the Habitats Directive.


The five SACs proposed for designation are:


Hatton Bank in the North East Atlantic: a volcanic bank that stretches almost 500 km and up to 1,000 m in depth and is home to a wide variety of soft and hard corals


Anton Dohrn Seamount, 200 km West of Scotland: a former volcano with steep cliffs descending 2,400m, which includes cold-water coral reefs and is a hotbed for marine biodiversity


East Rockall Bank, 320 km west of Scotland: a stony reef with steep canyons descending more than 1,000 metres, which supports rare sea slug, sponges and lace corals


Pobie Bank Reef, 20 km east of Shetland: a stony and bedrock reef that supports many species, including cup corals and a unique sponge only found on the reef


Solan Bank Reef, 50 km north of Cape Wrath: an ecosystem supporting many corals, sponges and brittlestars


Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said:

“Scotland’s seas provide rich and diverse ecosystems that are home to a wide array of plants and animals, including internationally important species. It’s our duty to protect this precious environment and these five SAC designations are a big step towards our commitments under the international Marine Protected Area networks.


“The Scottish Government and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee has carried out extensive and productive engagement with stakeholders – including the fishing industry – before these proposals were submitted. 


“We are fully committed to getting the balance right between marine conservation and use of the seas to support economic growth. We will continue dialogue with stakeholders to ensure that any future management measures are well designed and appropriate.


“Underwater landscapes such as Hatton Bank and Anton Dohrn are stunning and unique places, with dramatic crevasses and reefs that are home to thousands of species.  We need to ensure these sites are protected for the benefit of both the marine environment and future generations.”

Marcus Yeo, Chief Executive of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the UK’s statutory nature conservation body, said: “This landmark submission of marine SACs means that over a twelfth of UK seas are now within Marine Protected Areas and is a major step forwards in the conservation of our precious sea life.


“These sites will protect substantial areas of colourful bedrock, stony and cold water coral reefs. People think that coral reefs are only found in exotic, tropical locations and don’t realise that we have these fragile habitats right here on our doorstep as well.”


Related information


The EC Habitats Directive aims to conserve natural flora and fauna across the European Community. One of the measures to achieve this is by establishing the Natura 2000 network of Special Areas of Conservation sites for rare, endangered, vulnerable or endemic species.


Further information on Hatton Bank, Pobie Bank Reef, Solan Bank Reef, East Rockall Bank and Anton Dohrn Seamount SACs can be found on the JNCC website. A selection of photos of the underwater features in the five sites are on the Greener Scotland Facebook page.


The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is the statutory adviser to Scottish and UK governments on nature conservation. JNCC is responsible for identifying SACs to fulfil these obligations, making recommendations to Scottish Ministers for offshore waters (between 12 and 200 nautical miles from the coast).


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Shutterstars Featured Contributor: Undersea

Shutterstars Featured Contributor: Undersea | Impact of fishing on marine habitats |
The Australia-based marine-image specialists of Undersea have only been with Shutterstock since June, but in that short time, they've joined the ranks of our strongest footage contributors, with over 11,000 clips to their name.
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