Scientists Condemn Deepsea Trawling
Thursday, March 11, 2004

Coldwater corals, plain Cinderellas to their flashy tropical sisters, are being destroyed before arriving at the scientific ball.

A statement released simultaneously at a meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Seattle, Washington, conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, urged a halt to deep-sea bottom trawling. Altogether, 1,136 scientists from 69 countries testified to the need for global protection of the coldwater coral forests recently discovered along places such as Japan, Alaska, Sweden, and Mauritania.

Slow-growing, coral "forests" probably live for centuries, making it difficult for them to recover from disturbance. Heavily-weighted trawl nets essentially bulldoze the sea bottom,
producing barren wastes of calcium rubble. About 95 percent of bottom-dwelling fish like
flounders are taken by only 13 countries. Biologists say it is not too late for this small group to establish a moratorium on trawling coldwater coral systems to permit the development of sustainable harvest methods.

Adapted by Suzanne Ubick and Kathleen M. Wong,
California Academy of Sciences