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November 25, 2016

First steps to save underwater ‘cities’

BY: Oceana Web



Yesterday we received very good news – the OSPAR expert group on species and habitats agreed to consider protecting Haploops communities! Side note: OSPAR is the international Commission in charge of protecting the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic, and Haploops are tiny crustaceans that live in tubes that they themselves build on muddy sea-beds.

These tubes form underwater mini-cities that attract many other species, some of them fishes such as plaice, halibut and cod that live in the bottom and feed on the dwellers of these rare habitats. The issue is that Haploops are in continued decline in certain OSPAR regions, such as the North-Sea and the Kattegat, because of damage from human activities such as bottom fishing, eutrophication and pollution. Losing these ecosystem engineers means also damaging other species that are closely associated with Haploops.

For this reason, Oceana presented a proposal to protect Haploops to the EU and North-Eastern Atlantic countries in 2015  We are very pleased to report that OSPAR endorsed the scientific grounds for their protection! Having passed this first hurdle, the proposal will next be discussed by OSPAR in March of 2017, when decision-makers will have the opportunity to move ahead with the protection of these humble creatures. We’ll keep you updated!

And what about other important but threatened habitats in the Atlantic? Well, Oceana will keep pushing for the conservation of other important “ocean builders” – kelps. The forests of these algae are among the most biodiverse (and beautiful) environments in the sea, and are seriously threatened by a range of factors, including warming sea temperatures. Oceana will continue to advocate for their protection as unique rich ecosystems, that are considered one of the most productive habitats on Earth.

Read more about how Oceana in Europe advocates to preserve Atlantic biodiversity.