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The protection and management of the Sargasso Sea: The golden floating rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean: Summary Science and Supporting Evidence Case

The protection and management of the Sargasso Sea: The golden floating rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean: Summary Science and Supporting Evidence Case
The protection and management of the Sargasso Sea: The golden floating rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean: Summary Science and Supporting Evidence Case
The Sargasso Sea is a fundamentally important part of the world’s ocean, located within the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre with its boundaries defined by the surrounding currents. It is the only sea without land boundaries with water depths ranging from the surface coral reefs of Bermuda to abyssal plains at 4500 m. The Sargasso Sea’s importance derives from the interdependent mix of its physical structure and properties, its ecosystems, its role in global scale ocean and earth system processes, its socio-economic and cultural values, and its role in global scientific research. Despite this, the Sargasso Sea is threatened by a range of human activities that either directly adversely impact it or have the potential to do so. Being open ocean, the Sargasso Sea is part of the High Seas, the area of ocean that covers nearly 50% of the earth’s surface but which is beyond the jurisdiction and responsibility of any national government, and as such it enjoys little protection. To promote the importance of the Sargasso Sea, the Sargasso Sea Alliance was created under the leadership of the Government of Bermuda in 2010. This report provides a summary of the scientific and other supporting evidence for the importance of the Sargasso Sea and is intended to develop international recognition of this; to start the process of establishing appropriate management and precautionary regimes within existing agreements; and to stimulate a wider debate on appropriate management and protection for the High Seas.

Nine reasons why the Sargasso Sea is important are described and discussed. It is a place of legend with a rich history of great importance to Bermuda; it has an iconic ecosystem based upon floating Sargassum, the world’s only holopelagic seaweed, hosting a rich and diverse community including ten endemic species; it provides essential habitat for nurturing a wide diversity of species many of which are endangered or threatened; it is the only breeding location for the threatened European and American eels; it lies within a large ocean gyre which concentrates pollutants and which has a variety of oceanographic processes that impact its productivity and species diversity; it plays a disproportionately large role in global ocean processes of carbon sequestration; it is of major importance for global scientific research and monitoring and is home to the world’s longest ocean time series of measurements; it has significant values to local and world-wide economies; and it is threatened by activities including over-fishing, pollution, shipping, and Sargassum harvesting.

Apart from over-fishing many of the threats are potential, with few direct causal relationships between specific activities and adverse impacts. But there is accumulative evidence that the Sargasso Sea is being adversely impacted by human activities, and with the possibility of new uses for Sargassum in the future, the lack of direct scientific evidence does not preclude international action through the established precautionary approach. The opportunity to recognise the importance of the Sargasso Sea and to develop and implement procedures to protect this iconic region and the wider High Seas should be taken before it is too late.
978-0-9847520-0-3
Sargasso Sea Alliance
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Laffoley, D.d’A, Roe, H.S.J., Angel, M.V., Ardron, J., Bates, N.R., Boyd, L.L., Brooke, S., Buck, K.N., Carlson, C.A., Causey, B., Conte, M.H., Christiansen, S., Cleary, J., Donnelly, J., Earle, S.A., Edwards, R., Gjerde, K.M., Giovannoni, S.J., Gulick, S., Gollock, M., Hallet, J., Halpin, P., Hanel, R., Hemphill, A., Johnson, R.J., Knap, A.H., Lomas, M.W., McKenna, S.A., Miller, M.J., Miller, P.I., Ming, F.W., Moffitt, R., Nelson, N.B., Parson, L., Peters, A.J., Pitt, J., Rouja, P., Roberts, J., Seigel, D.A., Siuda, A., Steinberg, D.K., Stevenson, A., Sumaila, V.R., Swartz, W., Trott, T.M. and Vats, V. (2011) The protection and management of the Sargasso Sea: The golden floating rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean: Summary Science and Supporting Evidence Case Bermuda, BM. Sargasso Sea Alliance 44pp.

Record type: Monograph (Project Report)

Abstract

The Sargasso Sea is a fundamentally important part of the world’s ocean, located within the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre with its boundaries defined by the surrounding currents. It is the only sea without land boundaries with water depths ranging from the surface coral reefs of Bermuda to abyssal plains at 4500 m. The Sargasso Sea’s importance derives from the interdependent mix of its physical structure and properties, its ecosystems, its role in global scale ocean and earth system processes, its socio-economic and cultural values, and its role in global scientific research. Despite this, the Sargasso Sea is threatened by a range of human activities that either directly adversely impact it or have the potential to do so. Being open ocean, the Sargasso Sea is part of the High Seas, the area of ocean that covers nearly 50% of the earth’s surface but which is beyond the jurisdiction and responsibility of any national government, and as such it enjoys little protection. To promote the importance of the Sargasso Sea, the Sargasso Sea Alliance was created under the leadership of the Government of Bermuda in 2010. This report provides a summary of the scientific and other supporting evidence for the importance of the Sargasso Sea and is intended to develop international recognition of this; to start the process of establishing appropriate management and precautionary regimes within existing agreements; and to stimulate a wider debate on appropriate management and protection for the High Seas.

Nine reasons why the Sargasso Sea is important are described and discussed. It is a place of legend with a rich history of great importance to Bermuda; it has an iconic ecosystem based upon floating Sargassum, the world’s only holopelagic seaweed, hosting a rich and diverse community including ten endemic species; it provides essential habitat for nurturing a wide diversity of species many of which are endangered or threatened; it is the only breeding location for the threatened European and American eels; it lies within a large ocean gyre which concentrates pollutants and which has a variety of oceanographic processes that impact its productivity and species diversity; it plays a disproportionately large role in global ocean processes of carbon sequestration; it is of major importance for global scientific research and monitoring and is home to the world’s longest ocean time series of measurements; it has significant values to local and world-wide economies; and it is threatened by activities including over-fishing, pollution, shipping, and Sargassum harvesting.

Apart from over-fishing many of the threats are potential, with few direct causal relationships between specific activities and adverse impacts. But there is accumulative evidence that the Sargasso Sea is being adversely impacted by human activities, and with the possibility of new uses for Sargassum in the future, the lack of direct scientific evidence does not preclude international action through the established precautionary approach. The opportunity to recognise the importance of the Sargasso Sea and to develop and implement procedures to protect this iconic region and the wider High Seas should be taken before it is too late.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 2011
Organisations: Marine Biogeochemistry, Ocean Biochemistry & Ecosystems, Marine Geoscience

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 358065
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/358065
ISBN: 978-0-9847520-0-3
PURE UUID: 1521fd80-d37e-4c0d-98f8-b62d2768874f

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 30 Sep 2013 13:36
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 03:32

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Contributors

Author: D.d’A Laffoley
Author: H.S.J. Roe
Author: M.V. Angel
Author: J. Ardron
Author: N.R. Bates
Author: L.L. Boyd
Author: S. Brooke
Author: K.N. Buck
Author: C.A. Carlson
Author: B. Causey
Author: M.H. Conte
Author: S. Christiansen
Author: J. Cleary
Author: J. Donnelly
Author: S.A. Earle
Author: R. Edwards
Author: K.M. Gjerde
Author: S.J. Giovannoni
Author: S. Gulick
Author: M. Gollock
Author: J. Hallet
Author: P. Halpin
Author: R. Hanel
Author: A. Hemphill
Author: R.J. Johnson
Author: A.H. Knap
Author: M.W. Lomas
Author: S.A. McKenna
Author: M.J. Miller
Author: P.I. Miller
Author: F.W. Ming
Author: R. Moffitt
Author: N.B. Nelson
Author: L. Parson
Author: A.J. Peters
Author: J. Pitt
Author: P. Rouja
Author: J. Roberts
Author: D.A. Seigel
Author: A. Siuda
Author: D.K. Steinberg
Author: A. Stevenson
Author: V.R. Sumaila
Author: W. Swartz
Author: T.M. Trott
Author: V. Vats

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