Overview of Seamount Bottom Fisheries Situations and Potential Impacts on Corals
Fisheries on seamounts are diverse and widespread but generally restricted to the subset of seamounts that have summits shallower than 2000m, most often less. Activities comprise both bottom fisheries with gears regularly touching the bottom, and (mostly) fisheries with gears that only accidentally contact the bottom. Adverse impacts on corals and other taxa forming Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (as defined in FAO Guidelines) have been documented in many waters, but the actual scale of past destruction has not been determined. In cases of e.g. stony coral reefs having been destroyed, recovery is very slow and may not happen.
There has been a historical development from unregulated fishing during the exploratory phase of seamount fishing, to a much reduced and regulated situation in the recent decades. RFMO/As have taken action to implement relevant measures to regulate exploitation of target resources and to protect VMEs. Much has been achieved, but challenges remain, especially in data-poor areas and where RFMOs have recently been formed. Key conditions facilitating progress and good scientific advice are outlined.