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Marine Conservation Institute, a leader in protecting marine biodiversity, announced an important paper published in today’s issue of Nature Climate Change titled “Options for Managing Impacts of Climate Change on a Deep-Sea Community.” The paper presents new research indicating Southeastern Australia’s deep-sea coral reefs are likely to be severely degraded by the combination of rising temperatures and increasing ocean acidification within a few decades. The authors concluded the best way to mitigate climate change impacts on deep-sea coral reefs is to locate and protect sites globally that are now, or will become, marine refuges both in territorial waters and areas beyond national jurisdiction.

“Our analysis strongly suggests Australia’s spectacular deep-sea coral reefs are at high risk for extinction,” said lead author, Dr. Ron Thresher from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia’s national science agency. “They are being squeezed from below by high levels of carbon dioxide (ocean acidification) and squeezed from above by warming ocean temperatures. We estimate they will be squeezed out of existence within a few decades (less than 50 years) unless we intervene or substantially reduce the world’s production of carbon dioxide.”

These dire findings led the authors to convene an international group of scientists and resource managers to assess options for dealing with the problem. The panel considered 17 different mitigation options spanning biological, engineering and regulatory domains, but in the end agreed the best option was to use state-of-the-art ocean models to forecast where refuges for deep-sea reefs and other important deep-sea ecosystems might exist in the future, and take steps to protect those sites.

“These threats are not limited to Australian waters and will impact deep-sea communities and fisheries around the world,” said Dr. John Guinotte, a co-author of the paper and marine biogeographer at Marine Conservation Institute. “We have the tools to identify the best areas for marine refuges and we urgently need to do so, both within countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones and on the high seas.”

This research reinforces the message that strongly protecting important marine areas as refuges is the best approach for safeguarding marine life and enhancing resilience from climate change. Unfortunately, only 2% of the ocean has been protected and less than 1% of the entire ocean is fully protected as no-take.

Marine Conservation Institute developed the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) to catalyze strong protection for at least 20% of the ecosystems in each marine biogeographic region of the world’s oceans by 2030, enough to avert mass extinction of marine life.  The Global Ocean Refuge System is a strategic, science-based and systematic way to safeguard marine ecosystems on a global scale and will help mitigate the impacts of excess carbon dioxide on the planet. To find out more about GLORES, please go to: www.globaloceanrefuge.org

About Marine Conservation Institute

Marine Conservation Institute is a team of highly-experienced marine scientists and environmental-policy advocates dedicated to saving ocean life for us and future generations. The organization’s goal is to help the world create an urgently-needed worldwide system of strongly protected areas—the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES)—a cost-effective way to ensure future diversity and abundance of marine life. Founded in 1996, Marine Conservation Institute is a US-based nonprofit organization with offices in Seattle, near San Francisco and in Washington DC. For more information, please go to: http://www.marine-conservation.org

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For more information, media and bloggers only, please contact:

Dr. John Guinotte

Marine Conservation Institute

email:  john.guinotte@marine-conservation.org

phone: +1 360 467-4043

 

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