Report | January 23, 2018

Defining Mediterranean VMEs. Draft list review & key concepts

According to FAO, a marine ecosystem should be classified as vulnerable based on the following characteristics: uniqueness or rarity, functional significance, fragility, life-history traits of species that make its recovery difficult and structural complexity. However, a VME is also described by its vulnerability, which is dependent upon the nature of the fishery and hence region dependent.

VMEs are frequently found in association with particular features of the seabed. Thus, the FAO guidelines also provide examples of geological features that potentially support VMEs: submerged edges and slopes; summits and flanks of seamounts, guyots, banks, knolls, and hills; canyons and trenches; hydrothermal vents; and cold seeps. In the Mediterranean Sea, seamounts and submarine canyons are among the most common geological features.