The world’s coastal marine ecosystems are being overlooked, both in terms of their ecological importance and their potential as a rallying point for conservation.
This is the argument being put forth by Project Seahorse and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), organizers of "Shallow Seas," a special talk happening at ZSL/London Zoo on Nov. 8 at 6 p.m.
In a recent Aquatic Conservation editorial, Vincent argues that increased protections are needed for the first 10 metres of depth of the world’s oceans, where the richest diversity of marine habitats and animal life can be found and where most ocean-related human activity takes place.
“More than 1.2 billion people live near the ocean, which puts tremendous pressure on these coastal ecosystems. For example, bottom trawling and other forms of fishing are primarily active in the shallows, emptying and flattening important habitats,” says Vincent.
Globally, 67% of wetlands, 65% of seagrasses, and 48% of other submerged aquatic vegetation have been lost over approximately the last century. The effects of changes in sea level, storm intensity and ocean acidity are all most pronounced in very shallow waters.
“Despite the clamours of concern for many marine conservation problems, the threats to the fragile ecosystems in coastal shallows are grossly underappreciated,” says Dr. Heather Koldewey, Project Seahorse’s Associate Director and Section Head for Global Programmes at ZSL.
Because billions of people live, work, and play in or near these coastal areas, Vincent and Koldewey believe they have great potential as a rallying point for ocean conservation.
“People relate to the seaside,” says Vincent. “Indeed for many people it is an integral part of their lives. As conservationists we need to look more closely at these ecosystems and their campaign potential.”
The ZSL’s Shallow Seas event (Nov. 8th at 6 p.m.) marks a first step towards this. The talk will be a wide-ranging discussion on the future of the world’s coastal marine ecosystems. Admission is free.
For more information, visit http://www.zsl.org/science/events/shallow-seas,552,EV.html or contact Project Seahorse at firstname.lastname@example.org.