World Transformation: Scientists Call for Protection of Coral
 Scientists Call for Protection of Coral
picture 9 May 2004 @ 08:41, by ming

From Synergic Earth News: BBC Environment -- More than 1,100 marine scientists have signed a statement calling on the UN and world governments to stop the destruction of deep-sea corals. The researchers want a moratorium on the use of the heavy trawling gear that gouges coral and sponges from the ocean bottom in search of valuable fish. Some of the coral fields will contain thousands of species and are sometimes called the "rainforests of the deep". "Bottom trawling is like fishing with bulldozers," said expert Elliot Norse. "It's devastatingly efficient in one sense; it's a way to get fish relatively easily and painlessly, if you don't mind killing all of the life on the bottom to catch them," the president of the US Marine Conservation Biology Institute told the BBC. The gear is huge. Nets are armed with steel weights or heavy rollers and destroy everything in their path. At the cold depths of one to two kilometres, the growth rates of all organisms are incredibly slow and the coral fields have little chance to re-establish themselves. Some of the corals resemble trees - they can be up to 10 metres tall - and some specimens have been found to be almost 2,000 years old. "They are sources of future medicines, they are recorders of global climate change because they live so long, and they provide habitat for many other species including some really important commercial fish," says Dr Norse. "They are also exquisitely beautiful organisms." It is the big and valuable species - cod, orange roughy, armorhead, grenadier and Chilean seabass - that live among the coral that draw the trawlers. But these fish species, too, cannot sustain heavy losses. (02/16/04)

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