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Full text of "The Diversity of the Seas: a regional approach. WCMC Biodiversity Series 4"

WCMC Biodiversity Series No 4 



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The Diversity of the Seas: 
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WORLD CONSERVATION 
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WCMC Biodiversity Series No. 4 



The Diversity of the Seas: 
a regional approach 

by the 

World Conservation Monitoring Centre 



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WORLD CONSERVATION 
MONITORING CENTRE 



Editors 

B. Groombridge and M.D. Jenkins 



World Conservation Press 

December 1996 



Prepared and published by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre with funding from the United 
Nations Environment Programme, IUCN - The World Conservation Union, and the UK Joint 
Nature Conservation Committee, within the funding arrangements made by IUCN, WWF and UNEP 
in support of the Centre. This support is gratefully acknowledged. 

The World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), based in Cambridge, UK is a joint-venture 
between the three partners in the World Conservation Strategy and its successor Caring For The Earth: 
IUCN - The World Conservation Union, UNEP - United Nations Environment Programme, and WWF 
- World Wide Fund for Nature. The Centre provides information services on the conservation and 
sustainable use of living resources and helps others to develop information systems of their own. 

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established in 1972 on the basis of the 
UN Conference on the Environment: The Stockholm Conference. UNEP's role is that of a secretariat 
within the United Nations which has been charged with the responsibility of working with 
governments to promote environmentally sound forms of development, and to co-ordinate global action 
for development without destruction of the environment. Significant information programmes 
coordinated by UNEP include EARTHWATCH, the Environment Assessment Programme (ERS), the 
International Environment Information System (INFOTERRA), and the International Register of 
Potentially Toxic Chemicals (IRPTC). 




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Published by: World Conservation Press, Cambridge, UK. 
ISBN: 1 - 899628 - 03 - 7 



Copyright: 



(1996) World Conservation Monitoring Centre 



Reproduction of this publication for educational or other non-commercial purposes is authorised 
without prior permission from the copyright holder. Reproduction for resale or other commercial 
purpose is prohibited without the prior written permission of the copyright holders. 

The designations of geographical entities in this report and the presentation of the material do not 
imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of WCMC or UNEP or other participating 
organisations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, or area, or of its authorities, or 
concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. 

Citation: World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1996. 77ie Diversity of the Seas: a regional 

approach. Groombridge, B. and Jenkins, M.D. (Eds), World Conservation Press, 
Cambridge, UK. 132pp. 

Cover Design: Michael Edwards 

Printed by: Staples Printers Rochester. A member of the Martins Printing Group 



Available from: IUCN Publications Services Unit, 219 Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, 
CB3 ODL, UK. Tel : +44 1223 277314 Fax: +44 1223 277136 
e-mail - info@wcmc.org.uk 



The Diversity of the Seas: a regional approach 

CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTION 1 

MARINE BIODIVERSITY 3 

THE MARINE BIOSPHERE 3 

DIVERSITY IN THE SEAS 6 

PRESSURES ON MARINE RESOURCES 14 

REGIONAL ACCOUNTS 28 

REVIEW OF REGIONAL DATA 28 

NOTES & SOURCES 32 

Black Sea 35 

Mediterranean 39 

North Atlantic 43 

Caribbean 5 1 

Southwest Atlantic 57 

West & Central Africa 61 

South Africa 67 

East Africa 71 

Red Sea & Gulf of Aden 75 

Kuwait 79 

South Asia 81 

East Asian Seas 85 

Northwest Pacific 89 

Northeast Pacific 95 

Southeast Pacific 101 

South Pacific 105 

Southwest Australia 1 1 1 

Antarctica 115 

Arctic 1 19 

ANNEX I. The role of UNEP in Conservation of Marine Biodiversity 121 

ANNEX II. FAO fishery areas 125 

ANNEX III. Acronyms 127 

REFERENCES 129 



This document 

This report has its origin in a compilation of country-level coastal and marine biodiversity data 
prepared under contract to UNEP in 1995. The structure of the material was revised in late 1995 to 
give an overview of biodiversity in sea areas covered by the UNEP Regional Seas programme. New 
information was added in 1996, and additional support to allow the document to be completed in its 
present format was provided by IUCN, the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and WCMC. 



Acknowledgements 

WCMC is very grateful to a number of collaborators, especially the following: 

Monica Borobia for providing information on marine biodiversity activities of UNEP Water Branch 
(including the former Oceans and Coastal Areas/Programme Activity Centre or OCA/PAC) and for 
continuing commitment to this project, and to Ian Dight of the Water Branch for review comments. 

Kenneth Sherman of NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service for encouragement, providing 
information on Large Marine Ecosystems, and suggesting several improvements to the draft text. 

Magnus Ngoile, Coordinator, Marine and Coastal Programme at IUCN - The World Conservation 
Union, for interest and support. 

Clare Eno, UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee, for helpful review comments. 

Particular thanks to Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri (UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, Regional 
Coordinating Unit) and Sue Miller (South Pacific Regional Environment Programme) for valuable 
review; thanks also to Jack Sobel (Centre for Marine Conservation, Washington D.C.) for remarks on 
an early draft, and to Teresa Mulliken (TRAFFIC International) for kindly allowing access to 
documentation on fisheries. 

While the above have contributed to this document in various ways, they do not necessarily endorse 
its content, for which WCMC is responsible. 



Credits 

Project concept: Richard Luxmoore (WCMC) and Monica Borobia (UNEP). Project team: Angela 
Barden, Neil Cox, Belinda Gray, Brian Groombridge, Martin Jenkins, Tim Johnson, Julie Reay 
(Production), Jamie Tratalos. Maps 1-3: Simon Blyth. Other assistance: Ian Barnes, Esther Byford, 
Rachel Cook, Mary Cordiner, Jeremy Eade, Rosalie Gardiner, Jonathan Rhind, Tim Inskipp, Richard 
Peck, Mark Spalding, Jo Taylor. 



INTRODUCTION 



Purpose 

The marine component of biological diversity is of immense importance to humankind. Despite this, 
information on the status of marine living resources and ecosystems remains much less complete, or 
less readily available, than that for terrestrial ecosystems. Clearly there is a need for far more attention 
to be paid to marine systems in order to improve our current state of knowledge; indeed this issue has 
been given explicit emphasis by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The 
Second Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD identified the need for a comprehensive 
ecosystem-based approach to marine and coastal biodiversity (Annex II to decision 11/10) (CBD, 1996). 

We seek here to present information in a format that begins to meet the need for an integrated 
approach as identified by the CBD, and which is capable of modification or further elaboration as 
appropriate. 

It is not the purpose of this document to review systematically the principal issues involved in 
conservation and management of marine biodiversity. Several such reviews exist, among them: 
Committee on Biological Diversity in Marine Systems (CBDMS) (1995), Norse (1993), Thorne-Miller 
and Catena (1991). Numerous research, planning and management activities are currently being 
developed in relation to the focus provided by the CBD, its Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical 
and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and the International Waters portfolio of the Global Environment 
Facility (GEF). 

Contents 

The major part of this document consists of a region by region presentation of information on different 
themes central to marine biodiversity management. The regional framework adopted is based on the 
UNEP Regional Seas programme (see Annex I). Within each regional setting we have assembled 
information on Large Marine Ecosystems, biodiversity and fisheries issues. Please consult Notes and 
Sources (p 32) for details of information quality and sources. In further developing this approach it 
will be desirable to integrate these classes of information more explicitly and more fully, and to 
consider additional data sets, eg. coastal settlement patterns, cultural factors, non-fishery use of marine 
resources, other elements of biodiversity, and so on. 

The regional material is prefaced by a brief introduction in which key aspects of marine biodiversity 
are outlined and information on forces for change presented. 

Coverage 

Map 1 shows the approximate geographic area covered by each Regional Seas agreement (note that 
this is not an official UNEP representation of these areas and it implies no expression of opinion in 
respect of national boundaries). The map distinguishes those regions to which a formal Convention 
applies from those covered by an Action Plan (or where such a plan is under discussion). The exact 
geographic coverage of each Regional Seas area is not precisely delineated. The map is based on the 
assumption that Regional Seas in general extend to the limit of the maritime boundary of each state 
concerned. 

There remains a number of countries or regions that either are not associated with a UNEP Regional 
Sea or have parts of the coast thus associated, but not all parts (eg. Australia). Such areas have been 



The Diversity of the Seas 

here defined as 'regions' for the purposes of this document, and are also indicated on the map. The 
regions so defined are: North Atlantic, South Africa, Northeast Pacific, Southwest Australia. The map 
does not represent the Arctic and Antarctic regions used herein and which also are not formally part 
of the Regional Seas programme. 



MARINE BIODIVERSITY 



THE MARINE BIOSPHERE 

Oceans cover 71% of the world's surface. They are on average around 3.8 km deep and have an 
overall volume of some 1370 million cubic kilometres (see Table 1). The whole of the ocean is 
theoretically capable of supporting life, so that the marine part of the biosphere is far larger than the 
terrestrial part. However, as on land, life in the oceans is very unevenly distributed. This section is 
intended to introduce some fundamental features of the marine biosphere as a basis for discussion of 
marine biodiversity and its use as presented in the regional accounts below. 

THE BASIS OF LIFE IN THE SEAS 

In the sea, as on the land, the process of photosynthesis is the driving force behind maintenance of life. 
Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants (and other organisms possessing chlorophyll) use 
water, carbon dioxide and the energy of sunlight to generate simple sugars which are used as a source 
of energy or as a basis lor other new organic substances. With few exceptions, this process is the only 
means by which new energy is captured to sustain life on earth. 

Primary prodm firm is the rate at which the sun*s energy is captured by photosynthesis and stored 
or transformed, and is usually expressed as weight of material per unit area per unit time (eg. grams 
of carbon/nrA ear i With some exceptions, this tends to be lower in marine environments than 
terrestrial ones, especially if highly-managed terrestrial agricultural systems are considered (see Table 
2). In the marine environment, photosynthesis takes place only in littoral zones and in sunlit waters 
of the open ocean ithe photic zone); all other marine organisms, including those of the unlit middle 
depths and the deep sea are dependent ultimately on growth of primary producers in areas that may 
be widely distant Irom them in time and space. The most important exceptions to this are the bacteria 
living around hvdriithermal vents associated with rift zones in the ocean floor. The water here can be 
10°C warmer than adjacent areas and the bacteria are able to grow using as an energy source hydrogen 
sulphide gas emitted at the vents, and they in turn are used by other organisms. 

Until the I9X()s it had been believed that photosynthesis in the pelagic ocean was carried out only by 
single-celled phwupljnkton, between 1 and 100 microns in diameter (1 micron = .001 mm), and also 
that vast expanses ol open ocean where phytoplankton could not be detected were in terms of 
productivitv the marine equivalent of deserts. New observational techniques have since revealed the 
presence in great abundance of exceptionally small and previously unknown organisms, collectively 
termed pivopUmkum. These include unicellular cyanobacteria, around 1 micron in size, and even 
smaller prm hlornphxtes, about 0.6 micron in size, and other new types of algae. Because of their 
extraordinary abundance, and despite their minute size, these organisms play a crucial role in 
productivits ol open ocean waters: some 100 million cells may be present in one litre (Vaulot, 1995). 

The following points summarise some of the key features of marine ecology, and ways in which the 
marine biosphere differs from the terrestrial: 

• Water absorbs sunlight strongly and, while different wavelengths penetrate more deeply than others, 
light is completely absorbed at 200-400 metres; primary production from photosynthesis is thus 
limited to the continental shelf area and surface waters of the open ocean which together make up 
a very small proportion of the total volume of the oceans. 



The Diversity of the Seas 

■ Most marine primary production is by microscopic organisms (eg. diatoms, dinoflagellates) and the 
dominant herbivores are similarly small animals (eg. copepod crustaceans) that feed upon them; 
marine herbivores generally consume entire organisms whereas terrestrial ones consume small parts 
leaving the plant in situ. 

■ Average biomass (amount of living tissue per unit area) in the oceans has been estimated at around 
one-thousandth that on land, and average marine productivity at about one-fifth of that in terrestrial 
environments. 

With the exception of the large brown algae (Phaeophyceae) known as kelp, there are no large 
plants in the sea, and none analogous to the terrestrial woody plants that so enrich terrestrial 
environments by providing food sources and structurally complex habitats for other organisms. 

• Seawater is several hundred times more dense than air; this means that small organisms and 
particles can remain suspended in it, and many kinds of organism exist by filtering these particles 
out of the water mass; filter-feeding is a key step in many marine food chains. 

Table 2 Area and maximum depth of the world's oceans and seas 





Area (km 2 ) 


Depth 
(metres) 




Area (km 2 ) 


Depth 

(metres) 


Pacific Ocean 


165,384,000 


11,524 


Sea of Okhotsk 


1,528,000 


3,475 


Atlantic Ocean 


82,217,000 


9,560 


East China Sea 


1,248,000 


2,999 


Indian Ocean 


73,481,000 


9,000 


Yellow Sea 


1,243,000 


91 


Arctic Ocean 


14,056,000 


5,450 


Hudson Bay 


1,233,000 


259 


Mediterranean Sea 


2,505,000 


4,846 


Sea of Japan 


1,008,000 


3,743 


South China Sea 


2,318,000 


5.514 


North Sea 


575,000 


661 


Bering Sea 


2,269,000 


5,121 


Black Sea 


461,000 


2,245 


Caribbean Sea 


1,943,000 


7,100 


Red Sea 


438,000 


2,246 


Gulf of Mexico 


1,544,000 


4,377 


Baltic Sea 


422,000 


460 


Source: Times Atlas of the Oceans 











THE CONTINENTAL SHELF 



Marine waters around major landmasses are typically shallow, lying over a continental shelf which 
may be anything from a few kilometres to several hundred kilometres wide. The most landward part 
is the littoral or intertidal zone where the bottom is subject to periodic exposure to the air. Water depth 
here varies from zero to several metres. Seaward of this the shelf slopes gently from shore to depths 
of one to several hundred metres, forming the sublittoral or shelf zone. Waters below low tide mark 
in this region are referred to as neritic. 

The neritic or continental shelf zone forms only 7-8% of the world's ocean area, but is easily the best 
known and studied part. It includes the large marine ecosystems from which most of the world's 



The Diversity of the Seas 



Table 3 Comparative estimates of productivity in 
representative marine and terrestrial habitats 



fishery production is extracted. It is also, as 
noted below, the part which has suffered most 
impact from mankind's activities. The entire 
region below the reach of sunlight (the aphotic 
zone) comprising by far the largest volume and 
area of the world's oceans, is still very little 
known. 

With the present configuration of landmasses, a 
major part (37%) of the world ocean is within 
the tropics, and about 75% lies between the 45° 
latitudes. The largest continental shelf areas are 
in high northern latitudes, but about 30% of the 
total shelf area is in the tropics; within the 
tropics, the shelf is most extensive in the 
western Pacific (China Seas south to north 
Australia) and least so along eastern coasts. 

The extent, gradient and superficial geology of 

continental shelf areas are determined by many 

factors, including levels of tectonic activity in 

the earth's crust. A small number of mainly 

tropical rivers dominate transport of sediment 

from land to sea. More than 80% of the global 

volume of river-borne sediment is deposited in 

the tropics (and an estimated 40% of it by just 

two river systems: the Huang He or Yellow 

River and the Ganges-Brahmaputra) (Longhurst 

and Pauly, 1987), and this is reflected in the 

extent of shelf areas in parts of the tropics 

(especially the east Indian Ocean and west Pacific), and in the high turbidity of coastal waters in 

monsoon regions. Most shelf areas in the tropics are overlain by sands or muds composed of sediment 

of terrestrial origin (terrigenous deposits). 

Mangroves and coral reefs are undoubtedly the two best known tropical coastal ecosystems, although 
only a minor part of the world's tropical coastline is dominated by them: the former are extensive 
mainly in deltaic or other low-lying coastal plains; the latter are important only where insignificant 
amounts of terrestrial sediment are transported into coastal waters (Longhurst and Pauly, 1987). 
Unvegetated soft-bottom habitats are probably the most widespread systems, although sea-grass and 
sea- weed beds occupy important areas. 

At the outer edge of the shelf there is an abrupt steepening of the sea bottom, forming the continental 
slope which descends to depths of 3-5 km. The sea-bottom along the slope is referred to as the bathyal 
zone. At the base of the continental slope are huge abyssal plains which form the floor of much of 
the world's oceans. The plains are punctuated by numerous submarine ridges and sea- mounts which 
may break the surface to form islands. There are also a number of narrow trenches which have depths 
of from 7,000 to 1 1,000 m. These constitute the hadal zone. All marine areas beyond the continental 
shelf are referred to as oceanic. 



MARINE 


productivity 




gC/m 2 /yr 


Coral Reef 


1,500-5,000 


Tropical seagrass 


4,000 


Tropical kelp 


2,000 


Temperate seagrass 


500-1,000 


Temperate kelp 


800 


Temperate inshore 


300-400 


Temperate open sea 


70-120 


Antarctic seas 


100 


Tropical open sea 


18-50 


Arctic Ocean 


1 


TERRESTRIAL 




Agricultural land 


2,000-7,500 


Tropical forest 


2,000-5,000 


Temperate grassland 


500 


Desert scrub 


70-50 



Source: data from Nybakken (1993). 



The Diversity of the Seas 

Table 4 Relative areas of continental shelves and open ocean 



Polar and boreal (45-90°) 
Temperate (20-45°) 
Tropical (0-20°) 
Total areas 



Open ocean 


Continental shelf 


% total area 


% total area 


26.6 


40.9 


36.8 


28.8 


36.6 


30.3 


360.3 million km 2 


26.7 million km 2 



Source: from Longhurst and Pauly (1987), after Moiseev. 



THE OCEANIC PELAGIC ZONE 

Pelagic organisms are those living in open water, away from the sea bed; the pelagic zone includes 
continental shelf waters (neritic; see above) and the remainder, the oceanic pelagic zone. Given that 
the oceans cover some 7 1 % of the globe, and that the shelf area is relatively narrow, the oceanic 
pelagic zone is by far the most extensive ecosystem on Earth. 

The oceanic pelagic zone is dominated by the activity of the plankton in the surface waters where 
sunlight penetrates. Plankton are by definition drifting or weakly-swimming organisms, and comprise 
microscopic photosynthetic organisms (eg. diatoms, dinoflagellates), the animals that consume them, 
and the bacteria that consume their organic debris. Plankton tend to be unevenly distributed - 
concentrated along major circulation currents (gyres), contact zones and upwellings. Species richness 
appears to vary with depth and latitude. For example ostracod diversity in the North Atlantic was 
found to peak at depths of around 1000 m, while planktonic diversity in general in the same region 
was found to be at a maximum in the tropics and a minimum at high latitudes (Angel, 1993). At any 
one locality, planktonic species richness can compare with richness at terrestrial sites, but the very 
large scale of oceanic ecosystems means that species composition tends to be uniform over large areas, 
eg. the richest locality in samples from the northeast Atlantic included 81 ostracod species while the 
entire region has a maximum of around 120 species overall (Angel, 1993). 

Free-swimming pelagic organisms, predominantly fishes but also cetaceans and cephalopod molluscs 
(squid), are collectively termed nekton. These organisms, when adult, are predators of plankton or 
smaller nekton. They in turn - as vertically-migrating fishes or larvae, and as dead organic material, 
provide food for deep sea and benthic (bottom-living) organisms. With few exceptions, the only other 
food source for creatures in the aphotic zone is the 'rain' of organic matter, such as faeces, moulted 
crustacean exoskeleton, and a variety of other organic material derived from plankton in the surface 
waters of the ocean. 



DIVERSITY IN THE SEAS 

It is well known that diversity at higher taxonomic levels (Phyla and Classes) is much greater in the 
sea than on land or in freshwater: 34 phyla and 73 classes in the marine environment compared with 
15 phyla and 33 classes on land (Briggs, 1994). This is believed to be because most of the 



The Diversity of the Seas 

fundamental patterns of organisation and body plan, ie. the different basic kinds of organism that are 
distinguished as phyla, originated in the sea and remain there, but only a subset of them have spread 
to the land and into freshwaters. It has generally been assumed that diversity at much lower taxonomic 
levels, notably among species, is much lower than on land. However, recent work concerned 
particularly with benthic faunas (outlined below) and with very small planktonic organisms 
(picoplankton, see above), has revealed unsuspected levels of diversity. There are many more species 
of small-sized benthic organisms (eg. nematodes) than assumed, and local diversity of higher taxa can 
be marked (eg. around hydrothermal vents). Nevertheless, much remains to be discovered about the 
diversity of life in the seas. The text below provides a selective introduction to some important 
elements of marine and coastal biodiversity. 

Deep-sea communities 

Approximately 51% of the earth's surface is covered by ocean over 3,000 m in depth. Deep-sea 
communities are thus prevalent over a major proportion of the planet. All deep-sea habitat is in the 
aphotic zone, well below the distance sunlight can penetrate. As deeper and deeper levels are reached 
biomass falls exponentially (Rowe, 1983). 

Despite their enormous volume, the deep oceans appeared to be relatively simple ecosystems, and to 
make little contribution to global species diversity, but discoveries during the past decade have shown 
that in some regions, species diversity in the benthic community increases with increasing depth. This 
was revealed by novel sampling techniques, principally the epibenthic sled (Hessler and Sanders, 
1967). Speculative extrapolation from sample data suggests that the deep sea may hold several million 
species. However it is uncertain to what extent results can reasonably be extrapolated. The rate of 
discovery of new species and the proportion of species currently known from only one sample both 
suggest that a great number remain to be discovered (Angel, 1991, Grassle, 1991). 

In the megafauna, echinoderms of several classes are often the dominant mobile life forms on or in 
association with the sea bottom. Giant scavenging amphipods, growing up to about 18 cm in length, 
are also characteristic in many areas. However, the high mobility of these animals means they are 
rarely caught in trawls and have been less well studied than less active animals. Other arthropods 
include a variety of sea spiders (Pycnogonida) and decapods of several families. Mobile animals of 
several other taxa occur, including polychaetes, hemichordates, cephalopods and fish. Sponges 
(Porifera), especially the glass sponges, and coelenterates (Cnidaria), particularly anthozoans, are also 
well represented. 

Ocean trenches 

Ocean trenches are formed as a consequence of plate tectonic processes where sectors of expanding 
ocean floor are compressed against an unyielding continental mass or island arc, resulting in the crust 
buckling downwards (subducting) and being destroyed within the hot interior of the Earth. As oceanic 
crust ages and cools, it becomes denser and stiffer, resulting in a steeper angle of subduction and a 
deepening trench. Trenches along the western edge of the Pacific are deepest and oldest. Seismically, 
ocean trenches are highly active, as subduction is an episodic rather than continuous process. This 
results in an unstable and unpredictable habitat compared to the relative environmental stability of the 
adjacent abyssal plains (Angel, 1982). 

Ocean trenches are typically close to land masses and tend to have high rates of sedimentation, a 
significant amount of which is of organic origin and an important available food source for trench 
communities. Several trenches also underlie highly productive cold water upwelling zones, the organic 



The Diversity of the Seas 

fallout from which contributes greatly to their richness. The water within trenches generally originates 
from the surrounding bottom water, which is derived from cold surface water at high polar latitudes 
and is relatively well oxygenated (Angel, 1982). 

Trenches tend to be isolated linear systems with high seismic activity; trench faunas are not rich in 
species but are often high in numbers of endemic species. There are some 25 genera restricted to the 
ultra-abyssal (hadal) zone, representing some 10-25% of the total number of genera present, and two 
known endemic hadal families; the Galafheanthemidae (Actinaria) and Gigantapseudidae (Crustacea). 
The latter family contains a single species: Gigantapseudes adactylus. The greatest number of endemic 
species known from a single trench is a sample of 200 from the Kurile-Kamchatka Trench; this may 
be compared with 10 endemic species known from the Ryukyu and Marianas Trenches. 

Hydrothermal vents 

Hydrothermal vent communities were first discovered in 1977, at a depth of 2,500 m on the Galapagos 
Rift. They are now known to be associated with almost all known areas of tectonic activity at various 
depths. These tectonic regions include ocean-floor spreading centres, subduction and fracture zones, 
and back-arc basins (Gage and Tyler, 1991). Cold bottom- water permeates through fissures in the 
ocean floor close to ocean-floor spreading centres, becomes heated at great depths in the Earth's crust, 
and finds its way back to the surface through hydrothermal vents. The temperature of vent water varies 
greatly, from around 23°C in the Galapagos vents, to around 350°C in the vents of the East Pacific 
Rise, and they may be rich in metalliferous brines and sulphide ions (Angel, 1982). Most species live 
out of the main flow at temperatures of around 2°C, the ambient temperature of deep-sea water. The 
biomass of vent communities is usually high compared to other areas of similar depth, and dense 
colonies of tube-worms, clams, mussels and limpets typically constitute the major components. 

Vent communities are separated by gaps of between one and 100 km, and although they may persist 
only for several years or decades, sites of vent activity move relatively slowly allowing dispersal of 
vent organisms (Gage and Tyler, 1991). Vent communities could be part of a unique ecosystem as old 
as plate tectonic activity on Earth (Grassle, 1985). 

Hydrothermal vent communities are of particular interest in that they flourish in the dark at high 
pressures and low temperatures (Grassle, 1986), and unique in that they are supported by a non- 
photosynthetic source of organic carbon, ie. chemosynthetic primary production. The enriched 
hydrothermal fluid supports large numbers of bacteria (predominantly Thiomicrospira species) which 
form dense bacterial carpets, and are capable of deriving energy from reduced compounds such as 
hydrogen sulphide (Grassle, 1986; Gage and Tyler, 1991). Many of the vent species filter- feed on these 
bacteria, whilst others rely on symbiotic sulphur bacteria for energy (Angel, 1982). 

The overall species diversity at vents is low compared with other deep-sea soft-sediment areas 
(Grassle, 1986), but endemism is high. More than 20 new families or sub-families, 50 new genera and 
nearly 160 new species have been recorded from vent environments, including brine and cold seep 
communities (Grassle, 1989; Gage and Tyler, 1991). 

Other seeps 

There are two further seep patterns. Cold sulphide and methane-enriched groundwater seeps occur near 
the base of the porous limestone of the Florida Escarpment, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. The 
seeps support a dense faunal community associated with a covering or mat of bacteria on the sediment 



The Diversity of the Seas 

surface. These communities are strikingly similar in taxonomic composition to the hydrothermal vents 
of the east Pacific, a fact which points to a common origin and evolutionary history for both 
community types (Hecker, 1985). The community consists of large mussels and the vestimentiferan 
worm Escarpia laminata, as well as galatheid crabs, serpulid worms, anemones, soft corals, brittle 
stars, gastropods and shrimps. Methane-rich seeps occur in the North Sea, the Kattegat, and elsewhere. 

Tectonic subduction zone seeps are more diffuse and lower in temperature than hydrothermal vent 
seeps, and are rich in dissolved methane. They are known to occur off Oregon, where the fauna 
includes species of Lamellibrachia and large vesicomyid bivalves, and in the Guaymas Basin in the 
Gulf of California, where thick bacterial mats cover the sulphide and hydrocarbon-coated sediment. 
The cold Japanese subduction zone seeps occur at a depth of 1,000 m in Sagami Bay near Tokyo and 
in the subduction zones of the trenches off the east coast of Japan. The communities vary, but include 
dense benthic assemblages dominated by Calyptogena clams associated with a stone crab Paralomis 
sp., sepulid worms, sea anemones, galatheid crabs, swimming holothurians and amphipods (Gage and 
Tyler, 1991). 

Corals and coral reefs 

Corals are members of the phylum Cnidaria, which includes such diverse forms as sea anemones, 
jellyfish and hydroids. Within this phylum, corals and sea anemones comprise the class Anthozoa. 
Corals may be categorised as hermatypic (reef-building) or ahermatypic (non-reef-building). The great 
majority of hermatypic corals belong to the order Scleractinia, the stony corals. They collectively 
deposit calcium carbonate to build colonies. The coral polyps have symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) 
within their tissues which process the polyps' waste products. The zooxanthellae use the nitrates, 
phosphates and carbon dioxide produced by the coral, and through photosynthesis generate oxygen and 
organic compounds that provides much of the polyps' nutrition. The zooxanthellae give corals their 
colour (IUCN, 1993). Ahermatypic, non-symbiotic corals do not form reefs and can exist in deeper 
colder waters. Not all reefs are constructed primarily by corals. Several genera of red algae in 
particular grow heavily calcified encrustations which bind the reef framework, forming structures such 
as algal ridges. 

The term coral reef applies to a variety of calcium carbonate structures developed by stony corals and 
calcareous algae. Coral reefs are tropical shallow water ecosystems of high biodiversity largely 
restricted to the seas between the latitudes of 30°N and 30°S (Wilkinson and Buddemeier, 1994). They 
occur in around 110 countries. Coral reefs are most abundant in shallow, well flushed marine 
environments characterised by clear, warm, low nutrient waters that are of oceanic salinity and super- 
saturated with calcium carbonate (Wilkinson and Buddemeier, 1994). There are two basic categories: 
shelf reefs, which form on the continental shelves of large land masses, and oceanic reefs, which are 
surrounded by deeper waters and are often associated with oceanic islands. Within these two categories 
there are a number of reef types: fringing reefs, which grow close to shore; barrier reefs which 
develop along the edge of a continental shelf or through land subsidence in deeper waters and are 
separated from the mainland or island by a relatively deep wide lagoon; and atolls, which are roughly 
circular reefs around a central lagoon and are typically found in oceanic waters, probably originating 
from the fringing reefs of long submerged islands. Two other less clearly defined categories are patch 
reefs which form on irregularities on shallow parts of the seabed and bank reefs, which occur in deeper 
waters, both on continental shelf and in oceanic waters (WCMC, 1992). 

Coral reefs are one of the most productive and diverse of all natural ecosystems. Around the world 
coral reefs have suffered a dramatic decline. In the past, severely stressed coastal ecosystems have 
been primarily temperate, but this is no longer true. The major human impacts (aside from fishing) 



The Diversity of the Seas 

on temperate coasts, such as heavy industrialization, large coastal developments, dredging and 
pollutants including sewage and oil, are now affecting the coastal areas of developing tropical nations. 
Among other effects, these are damaging coral reefs (Talbot, 1995): about 10% may already have been 
degraded beyond recovery and another 30% are estimated to decline seriously within the next 20 years 
(IUCN, 1993). 

Central parts of the Indo-West Pacific contain the highest number of reef fish species, and richness 
decreases with increasing distance from this core area. Most reef fish species are relatively rare in 
terms of individuals in the community. Thus, at Toliara (southwest Madagascar) only about 25% (136) 
of the total number of fish species present were ranked as abundant (Harmelin- Vivien, 1989). Many 
families of coral reef fishes have a circum-tropical distribution, although there are pronounced 
differences at species level; the number of reef fish species within a single zoogeographic region varies 
between 100s and 1,000s. Most families in tropical seas include species that occur in the coral reef 
fauna, and some families are almost entirely restricted to reefs, such as Chaetodontidae, Scaridae, and 
Labridae. Within the demersal component (feeding on benthic organisms), the families Acanthuridae, 
Balistidae, Belennidae, Holocentridae, Ostraciodontidae, Pomacentridae (damselfish) and Serranidae 
tend to dominate. Principal pelagic families associated with reefs, other than the top predators such 
as Carangidae, Sphyraena and sharks, include Atherinidae (silversides), Pomacentridae and small 
lutjanids such as Caesio and its relatives (Longhurst and Pauly, 1987). Small-sized species tend to 
predominate, although the range is from 2-3cm for some Eviota species to over 5m for some sharks. 

Table 5 Species richness of corals and reef fishes at selected regions and sites 



coral reef site 


number of 
fish species 


number of 
coral species 


coral reef site 


number of 
fish species 


number of 
coral species 


Philippines 




1,500 


400 


Moorea 
(Society Is) 




280 


48 


Great Barrier Reef 




1,500 


350 


St Gilles 
(Reunion) 




258 


120 


New Caledonia 




1,000 


300 


Tutia Reef 
(Tanzania) 




192 


52 


French Polynesia 




800 


168 


Tadjoura 
(Djibouti) 




180 


65 


Heron Island 
(Great Barrier) 




750 


139 


Baie Possession 
(Reunion) 




109 


54 


Society Islands 




633 


120 


Kuwait 




85 


23 


Toliara 
(Madagascar) 




552 


147 


Hermitage 
(Reunion) 




81 


30 


Aqaba 




400 


150 










Source: WCMC (1992), data from Harmelin-Vivien (1989). also Weber (1993). 









There is a strong positive correlation between coral and fish species richness at given sites, although 
this is less evident on a small scale within reef zones (Table 4). It has also been suggested that there 
is a positive correlation between the degree of live coral cover and species richness and abundance of 
reef fishes (Bell and Galzin, 1984). In addition, the presence of dietary specialist fish species is often 



10 



The Diversity of the Seas 

related to specific coral growth forms; for example, the exclusive coral feeders in the Chaetodontidae 
are positively correlated with the abundance of tall-branched coral colonies (Bouchon-Navarro et al., 
1985). 

Seagrasses 

Seagrasses are flowering plants (not true grasses) that are adapted to live submerged in seawater. There 
are approximately 48 species found in shallow coastal areas between the Arctic and Antarctic. 
Seagrasses are placed in two families: Potamogetonaceae (9 genera, 34 species) and Hydrocharitaceae 
(3 genera, 34 species) (Philips and Menez, 1988). They occur from the littoral region to depths of 50 
or 60 m but appear to be most abundant in the immediate sublittoral area. The are more species in the 
tropics than in the temperate zones, and of the 1 2 seagrass genera, 7 are confined to tropical seas and 
5 to temperate seas (Philips and Menez, 1988). 

Most seagrass species are very similar in external morphology, with long thin leaves and an extensive 
rhizome root system which enables them to fasten to the substrate. A variety of substrates are occupied 
from sand and mud to granite rock, but the most extensive beds occur on soft substrates (Nybakken, 
1993). 

Seagrass beds have a very high productivity rate and contribute significantly to the total primary 
production of inshore waters. Seagrass beds serve a number of important functions in inshore areas. 
They are a significant source of food for many organisms both by direct grazing and detritus feeding, 
including invertebrates, fishes, birds, the green turtle Chelonia mydas, the West Indian manatee 
Trichechus manatus and the dugong Dugong dugon. The beds also serve as nursery grounds for many 
commercial species such as the bay scallop Aquipecten irradians and shelter the inhabitants from 
predators and adverse environmental conditions. They serve to protect coastlines from the erosive force 
of wave action. 

Mangroves 

Mangroves (or mangals) are shrubs and trees which live in or adjacent to the intertidal zone. They are 
a polyphyletic group from a wide range of families comprised of approximately 69 taxa (62 species 
and 7 hybrids) (Duke, 1992). Mangrove communities are largely restricted to the tropics between 30°N 
and 30°S, with extensions beyond this to the north in Bermuda (32°20'N) and Japan (31°22'N) and 
to the south in Australia (38°45'S) and New Zealand (38°03'S) (Woodroffe and Grindrod, 1991). They 
are only able to grow on shores that are sheltered from wave action. Mangrove forests are particularly 
well developed in estuarine and deltaic areas. They may also extend some distance upstream along 
the banks of rivers, for example as far as 300 km along the Fly River in Papua New Guinea. 

Mangroves occur over a larger geographical area than coral reefs and, unlike reefs, are well developed 
along the western coasts of the Americas and Africa. They have a more restricted distribution than 
coral reefs in the South Pacific. There are two main centres of diversity, termed the eastern and 
western groups. The eastern group occurs in the Indo-Pacific (the Indian Ocean and western part of 
the Pacific Ocean) and is the most species-rich (Tomlinson, 1986; Spalding et al. 1996). The western 
group, although centred around the Caribbean, includes mangal communities along the west coast of 
the Americas and Africa. 

Mangrove communities are unique: due to the vertical extent of the trees, true terrestrial organisms 
can occupy the upper levels and true marine animals can occupy the bases (Nybakken, 1993). A wide 
variety of organisms is associated with the mangrove system. These include among the flora a number 

11 



Table 6 Diversity of mangroves 



Order 

Filicopsida 
Plumbaginales 
Theales 
Malvales 

Ebenales 
Primulales 
Fabales 
Myrtales 



Rhizophorales 

Euphorbiales 

Sapindales 

Lamiales 

Scrophuliariales 

Rubiales 
Arecales 



Source: Duke (1992). 



Species 

3 
2 
1 
2 
3 



19 



The Diversity of the Seas 

of epiphytes, parasites and climbers, and 
among the fauna large numbers of 
crustaceans, molluscs, fishes and birds 
(WCMC, 1992). It is estimated that more 
than 50% of the world's mangrove forest 
have already been destroyed by both 
human and natural causes (Lasserre, 
1995). 

Algae and Kelp Forests 

Algae lack vascular tissue (the transport 
system for water and nutrients) found in 
higher plants. They are almost exclusively 
aquatic; three of the four principal groups 
comprised of large-sized species are 
mainly marine in occurrence. These three, 
the green, brown and red algae 
('seaweeds'), are all cosmopolitan in 
distribution and occur in a range of 
environments, although some constituent 
families have somewhat restricted ranges. 
In contrast to the prevailing pattern in 
many organisms, the cold and cool 
temperate regions of the world are rich in 
species. On present incomplete 
information, the region around Japan 
(northwest Pacific), the North Atlantic, 
and the tropical and subtropical western 
Atlantic, hold the most species of marine 
algae. Southern Australia is not so species- 
rich but appears to have the highest 
proportion of endemics. There are few 
species of larger algae in regions of cold 
water upwelling, such as western tropical 

Africa and the west coast of South America; small isolated islands and polar regions also have few 
species. There are more species of red algae (Rhodophyta) than the greens (Chlorophyta) and browns 
(Phaeophyceae) combined. The brown algae include the kelps (order Laminariales), disjunctly 
distributed in temperate waters of both northern and southern hemispheres. 

As noted above, coral reefs support a unique and generally diverse algal flora that includes many 
crustose coralline algae (more species of which are likely to be discovered). Mangrove areas are also 
restricted to the tropics and subtropics and support a well-defined and interesting algal vegetation, 
contrasting with that of saltmarshes in the temperate zones, which are generally more species-poor. 
Sandy coastlines hold few species of large algae and often form barriers to seaweed dispersal. Some 
anthropomorphic changes to the coastline involving creation of additional habitats have locally 
enhanced species diversity; pollution, in contrast, has reduced species diversity, especially in lagoons, 
mangrove areas and coral reefs; in reef systems, pollution-tolerant weedy species tend to replace 
pollution-sensitive species. Land reclamation, rice-paddies and salt-pan development have led to the 
loss of algal habitat in many coastal areas in the tropics. 



Family 

Adiantaceae 

Plumbaginaceae 

Pelliciceraceae 

Bombacaceae 

Sterculiaceae 

Ebenaceae 

Myrsinaceae 

Leguminosae 

Combretaceae 

Lythraceae 

Myrtaceae 

Sonneratiaceae 

Rhizophoraceae 

Euphorbiaceae 

Meliaceae 

Avicenniaceae 

Acanthaceae 

Bignoniaceae 

Rubiaceae 

Palmae 



12 



The Diversity of the Seas 



Table 7 Diversity of marine algae 





orders 


genera 


species 


habitat 


Chlorophyta (Green Algae) 




8 


170 


1,040 


mostly marine 


Phaeophyceae (Brown Algae: 


i 


14 


265 


1,500 


marine 


Rhodophyta (Red Algae) 




16 


>555 


>2,500 


mostly marine 


Charophyta (Stoneworts) 






6 


440 


freshwater 


Source: modified from text by 


DM John and I 


Tittley. 


in WCMC (1992). 





Table 8 Species richness of marine algal floras 



Japan 


1,503 


E Africa 


643 


Viet Nam 


424 


Colombia 


123 


N Atlantic 


1,116 


NW America 


635 


Red Sea 


383 


Macquarie I 


103 


W Atlantic 


1,058 


Antarctica 


563 


Tropical W Africa 


299 


St Helena 


68 


Chile 


751 


S Africa 


547 


Angola 


196 


Ascension I 


52 


California 


668 


E Mediterranean 430 


Peru 


156 






Source: modified from 


text by DM John and I 


Tittley, 


in WCMC (1992). 









Throughout a large part of the cold temperate regions of the world, hard subtidal substrates are 
occupied by very large brown algae collectively known as kelps. These associations are known 
technically as kelp beds if the algae do not form a surface canopy, and kelp forests where there is a 
floating surface canopy (Nybakken, 1993). These formations occur primarily in the cold currents of 
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and may be found in tropical areas, typically in areas of upwelling and 
cold water surface currents. The extent of the kelp beds and forests on various coasts depends on 
several factors: kelps flourish with a hard substrate for attachment, moderate wave surge, cool, clear 
ocean water and high-nutrient waters (Dybas, 1993). Kelps are attached to the substrate by a structure 
called a holdfast. A stem arises from the holdfast, and this bears one or more broad flat blades. Kelps 
obtain their nutrients directly from the seawater and the main site of photosynthesis is in the blades 
(Dybas, 1993). 

Kelp beds and forest are extremely productive and provide the framework for an associated community 
including many different species of algae, invertebrates, and fishes. Despite the enormous productivity 
of the kelp, relatively few herbivores graze directly on the plants. It has been estimated that only 10% 
of the net production enters the food web through grazing and the remaining 90% enters the food 
chain in the form of detritus or dissolved organic matter (Nybakken, 1993). The main causes of kelp 
mortality can be attributed to mechanical forces, mainly wave action, and nutrient depletion, mainly 
nitrogen. Adult plants are only occasionally destroyed by grazing herbivores (Nybakken, 1993). Giant 
kelp is harvested not for direct consumption but for compounds such as algin, which is used as a 
emulsifier in food products, drugs, textiles, paints, and paper products (Dybas, 1993). 



13 



The Diversity of the Seas 

PRESSURES ON MARINE RESOURCES 

HUMAN USE OF THE OCEANS 

The seas provide many biological resources used by humans. In the form of marine fisheries they 
provide by far the most important source of wild protein, a source which is of particular importance 
to many subsistence communities around the world and which makes use of a wide range of animal 
species, notably fishes, molluscs and crustaceans. Marine algae are also an increasingly important 
foodstuff, notably in the Far East, with current annual world production of around two million tonnes. 
Marine organisms are also proving extremely fruitful sources of pharmaceuticals and other materials 
used in medicines. More minor although locally important uses include exploitation of coastal 
resources for building materials (eg. coral limestone, mangrove poles) and other industrial products 
(eg. tannins from mangroves). 

Access to marine resources is not equitably distributed amongst the world's nations. Most obviously, 
some 39 states are landlocked, ie. have no seaboard (three of these have seaboards on the Caspian, a 
sea-like inland water body not treated herein). Those that do have seaboards show great variation in 
length of coastline, and area of territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs - see below), 
both absolutely and relative to their land areas. They also show great variation in their capacities to 
exploit marine resources, both on the high seas and within their territorial waters and EEZs. 

Human activities, directly and indirectly, are now the primary cause of changes to marine biodiversity. 
Approximately 50% of the world's human population lives in the coastal zone (within 60 km of the 
sea) and some projections suggest that this will have risen to as much as 75% by the year 2020 
(UNCED, 1992). Pressures exerted by this, and indeed by the remainder of the human population, on 
the marine biosphere are immense and increasing. 

THREATS TO MARINE BIODIVERSITY 

Most identified threats relate to coastal and inshore (continental shelf) areas. However, threats to the 
oceanic realm are undoubtedly increasing: fisheries and their attendant physical effects, such as habitat 
alteration owing to dredging and trawling, have entered deeper continental slope waters having 
previously been largely confined to the epipelagic zone, and deep water oil and gas mining is planned. 
Even abyssal and hadal areas are susceptible to human impact. A small, steady increase in abyssal 
temperature of 0.32°C in 35 years has been attributed to global climate change brought about by the 
activities of man. Ocean waste dumping and the potential for deep water mining and mineral extraction 
are also causes for concern, as are the changes in biomass and species composition in the waters above 
these regions (CBDMS, 1995). 

The US National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Biological Diversity in Marine Systems 
(CBDMS, 1995) has identified the following five activities as the most important agents of present and 
potential change to marine biodiversity at genetic, species and ecosystem levels: 

• fisheries operations; 

■ chemical pollution and eutrophication; 

■ alteration of physical habitat; 

• invasions of exotic species; 

• global climate change. 



14 



The Diversity of the Seas 

All these factors are likely to interact with each other, making the effective, long-term management 
of marine resources one of the major - and most intractable - problems currently facing humankind. 

Below, we firstly discuss recent events in the Black Sea and the Baltic, which exemplify the 
complexity and magnitude of forces for change in the marine environment, and secondly, provide an 
overview of marine fisheries, which while helping meet basic nutritional needs in many human 
communities, are now clearly seen to be capable of having long-term adverse effects on resources that 
had seemed inexhaustible. 

The two case studies illustrate very well several of the key factors leading to degradation of the marine 
environment, and the effect of several factors acting simultaneously. They serve as a sobering 
presentiment of what is likely to befall many of the world's inshore marine areas. 

CASE STUDY I: THE BLACK SEA 

The following review is drawn largely from Mee (1992) and Griffin (1993), with some additional 
information from I A< ) ( 1 994). In the present century human influences have had an increasing impact 
on the Black Sc.i ecosystem. Six countries have coastlines on the sea: Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, 
Russian Federation. Georgia and Turkey. However, the sea's drainage basin also includes some or all 
of Hungary. Slovakia, the Czech Republic. Moldova, Belarus, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Croatia, 
Bosnia-Hcr/c;j(H ma. S» itzerland and Albania. Through discharge into rivers, or abstraction of water, 
all these countries m.iv have an influence on the Black Sea environment. Over 160 million people live 
in this area, around hall of these in the Danube basin alone. 

Major factors arc eutrophication as a result of massively increased nutrient loads arising from human 
activities in the nvei basins and along the sea coast, coupled particularly in the Sea of Azov with 
decreased water How .is rivers have been dammed and diverted for agricultural or industrial activities; 
pollution; inadequately controlled fishing; and the introduction (generally accidental) of exotics in the 
Black Sea itscll 

Chemical pollution and eutrophication 

In 1992 the Danube alone was estimated to introduce some 60,000 tonnes of phosphorus and c 
340,000 tonnes ol inorganic nitrogen a year into the Black Sea, along with 1000 tonnes of chromium, 
900 tonnes ol copper, 60 tonnes of mercury, 4500 tonnes of lead and 50,000 tonnes of oil. Nitrogen 
loads in the Danube have increased at least three-fold in the past 25 years, it is believed largely as a 
result of intensification of agriculture. Three-fold increases in concentration of nitrate and seven-fold 
increases ol phosphate have similarly been recorded in the Dniester since the 1950s. 

The increase! nutrient supply (eutrophication) has led to intensification of phytoplanktonic blooms, 
particular!) in the shallower northern and western areas. The blooms have led to a shallowing of the 
euphotic zone throughout the sea. In the open sea the depth of the euphotic zone has decreased from 
50-60 m in the earlv 1960s to around 35 metres; on coastal waters it is often less than 10 m. This 
decreased light penetration has led to massive decreases in the living biomass of benthic (bottom- 
dwelling) macrophylic algae or seaweeds, formerly an important harvested resource. Thus the area of 
Phyllophora is believed to have been reduced to around 5% of its original extent. At the same time, 
deposition of dead organic matter (mostly from the algal blooms) on the shallow shelf bottom here 
has led to an increasing tendency to anoxia (loss of oxygen in the water owing to the activities of 
bacteria), resulting in the mass die off of benthic fauna, including commercially valuable stocks of 
bivalve molluscs and fishes such as turbot. Virtually the whole of the northern and western continental 

15 



The Diversity of the Seas 

shelf, including all the Sea of Azov, is now prone to anoxia. It is also reported that formerly pristine 
benthic faunal communities are now being affected on the eastern and south-eastern coasts, a large 
distance away from the source of pollutants. 

Fisheries operations 

Around 26 species of fishes have traditionally been commercially harvested in the Black Sea, including 
some valuable species such as sturgeon, bluefish, bonito and turbot. Until 1983, a large, direct porpoise 
Phocoena phocoena fishery existed within the region. It is possible that this will re-open once stock- 
assessment has been completed. 

Although increased nutrient loads evidently had an adverse effect on the Black Sea benthos from an 
early stage, they also initially led to an increase in marine productivity, correlating in the 1960s with 
a dramatic expansion in fisheries effort by most of the nations bordering the sea. Fisheries effort was 
particularly directed to the larger, more valuable species, including anadromous fishes such as 
sturgeons and river herring, and pelagic, often migratory species, such as bonito, bluefish and mackerel 
as well as porpoise. These rapidly became overfished, both within the Black Sea and the connecting 
Sea of Marmara which served as a migration route for stocks of these species between the 
Mediterranean and Black Seas. 

Most of these larger species are predators. Severe reductions in the populations of these coupled with 
the increasing nutrient load seems to have led to an increase in biomass of small pelagic species, most 
notably of the anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus. Declared landings, mostly of anchovy, rose from a 
previous level of around 350,000-400,000 tonnes to nearly 1 million tonnes during the late 1970s. This 
represented only a proportion (perhaps 60%) of actual catch, as there is known to be considerable 
under-declaration of catches in the region. 

At the same time there was a general decrease in planktonic species diversity, accompanied by 
explosive blooms of one species of zooplankton (Noctiluca miliaris) and, during the 1980s, by 
dramatic increases in population of the jellyfish Aurelia aurita, whose biomass in the sea was 
estimated to reach an extraordinary 450 million tonnes at that time. 

At the end of the 1980s, the anchovy catch collapsed. Declared harvest in the Black Sea proper 
(excluding the Sea of Azov) decreasing from around 520,000 tonnes in 1988 to around 160,000 tonnes 
in 1989. The Sea of Azov anchovy fishery had declined from c 30,000 tonnes in 1986 to virtually zero 
in 1989. Overall catch has continued to decline, dropping to below 100,000 tonnes in 1990 and 1991. 

Invasions of exotic species 

It is difficult to be certain of the cause of this collapse. Overfishing is very likely to have been a 
contributory factor, but fisheries biologists believe that a significant cause has been the accidental 
introduction of the predatory ctenophore (comb-jelly) Mnemiopsis leidyi, native to estuaries in North 
America and thought to have been introduced into the Black Sea in discharged ballast water from oil 
tankers travelling from the USA to Black Sea ports. The ctenophore feeds on plankton, including fish 
eggs and fry, and appears to have no known predators in the Black Sea. Populations of this species 
exploded in the late 1980s, reaching a peak of some five kg per square metre of water column by 
1991. Densities have subsequently decreased somewhat but the species is now well established, with 
seasonal blooms which occur during the breeding season. 



16 



The Diversity of the Seas 

In 1992 Mnemiopsis was also recorded in the Sea of Marmara and the Turkish part of the 
Mediterranean. There are serious concerns that it might spread in ballast water to other areas of 
enriched estuarine outflow in the Mediterranean, such as the Gulf of Lions, the Adriatic and the Nile 
estuary. 

Overall it seems as if nutrient enrichment combined with excessive fishing may have led to major, 
conceivably irreversible, changes in food-chains within the Black Sea ecosystem, principally by 
favouring small, fast-growing and short-lived species which feed on plankton and also by creating 
opportunities for alternative invertebrate plankton-feeders, such as ctenophores and jellyfish (medusan 
cnidarians), to flourish. This eutrophication has also led to a drastic decrease in the amenity value of 
the area 

CASE STUDY II: THE BALTIC SEA 

The Baltic Sea covers around 413,000 km 2 . It is very shallow, having an average depth of around 57 
metres, although in places it reaches depths of up to 460 metres. It communicates with the North Sea 
through the Great and Little Danish Belts and the Oresund, which together form the so-called Belt Sea. 
This and the Kattegat form a transition zone between the North Sea and the Baltic proper. 

The great majority of water input into the Baltic comes from rivers, which contribute an estimated 
430-470 square kilometres of freshwater annually. Unlike the Black Sea, where one river (the Danube) 
dominates water inflow, no single river has dominance. The three largest rivers are the Neva, Wisla 
and Oder, which together contribute only just over one fifth of the overall freshwater input. Inflow of 
water varies seasonally and also over longer time periods. 

Over the past 12,000 years the Baltic has alternated several times from being a large freshwater lake 
to being a truly marine sea, although for the last 3000 years it appears to have been a relatively stable 
brackish water system. Salinity of surface waters varies from 1-3 ppt in the Bothnian Bay to 6-8 ppt 
in the Baltic proper. In the Kattegat region salinity is higher and much more variable, from 15-30 ppt. 
Bottom waters (those below 60 m) are of higher salinity, being fed by a current of saline water from 
the North Sea through the Great and Little Danish Belts and the Oresund, via the Kattegat and 
Skagerrak sea areas. Periodically, persistent westerly winds can also generate high volume inflows of 
saline surface water here. These inflows may occur only once every few years (before 1993 the last 
were in 1975 and 1976), but are of considerable ecological significance. 

The low and historically varying salinity of the Baltic has led to a considerably reduced level of both 
plant and animal diversity compared with nearby marine areas. The number of marine species 
decreases steeply with distance from the North Sea/Baltic Sea transition zone. Endemism rates are 
negligible, although some marine species show distinct morphology in the Baltic and there are some 
unique floral and faunal assemblages where freshwater, brackish water and marine species coexist. 

The following countries have coastlines on the Baltic: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, 
Lithuania, Norway (in the transition zone with the North Sea only), Poland, Russia and Sweden. The 
drainage basin feeding the Baltic also extends into Belarus and, marginally, into the Czech Republic 
and the Ukraine. The basin has a human population of around 80 million people. 



17 



The Diversity of the Seas 

Chemical pollution and eutrophication 

Major inputs come from domestic sewage, industrial and agricultural effluents, marine traffic and 
atmospheric deposition. Major industrial activities are paper and wood-pulp processing, which was 
formerly a major contributor of mercury and is still a dominant source of organochlorides, mining, 
steel and other metal manufacture and fertiliser production. Studies of metal content in bottom 
sediments indicate that atmospheric deposition (largely of residues from burning fossil fuels) is 
probably the major source of these contaminants (Hallberg, 1991). 

It is estimated that total loads of nitrogen have doubled and of phosphorus have quadrupled in the 
Baltic since 1950. Of these, 75% of total nitrogen load and 90% of phosphorus load are believed of 
anthropogenic origin. Some contaminants, however, show a decreasing trend, notably lead and PCBs. 
The latter appear to have stabilised at around one third of the maximum levels recorded in the 1970s. 
This decrease is associated with improved pollution controls during the past 15 years in northern and 
western states bordering the Baltic. However, central and eastern European countries usually have 
technological 1> outdated industrial plants which continue to cause significant pollution. 

Primary products n\ of phytoplankton in the Kattegat and central Baltic appears to have doubled in 
the past twenu live years. It seems likely that this is mainly a result of anthropogenic influence, 
although it is difficult to separate this from natural factors, particularly the lack of major inflow of 
North Sea waters during the period 1976-1993. The increase in primary production has led to a 
corresponding increase in algal sedimentation and decomposition in benthic waters, producing a 
deterioration ol o\\gen supply there. This decrease is most marked in the deeper basins of the Baltic 
but has also spread to shallower areas, leading to marked changes in the composition of benthic 
communities 1 urhidit\ has also increased, so that the clear water zone is now generally two to three 
metres shallower than at the start of the century. Algal blooms, sometimes toxic, appear to be 
increasing in lreuuenc> and intensity, but to date there does not appear to have been any drastic 
change in the species composition or overall relative abundance in the phytoplankton, or in pelagic 
communities more generally. 

Fisheries operations 

The most important fishery in the Baltic Sea has been cod Gadus morhua. Declared landings of cod 
during the pcnm.1 l l )S()-1985 were at an all time high, of between 335,000 and ca 440,000 tonnes. 
Mortality rates ha\e consistently exceeded recruitment so that the spawning stock size of the large 
central Baltic population has decreased from an estimated 800,000 tonnes in 1980 to under 100,000 
tonnes in 1992 I; has been below the minimum biologically acceptable level (MBAL) for several 
years. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) have recommended catch levels 
for many years Total Allowable Catches (TACs) have been set since 1989 but have consistently been 
higher than those recommended by ICES so that the spawning stock size has continued to decrease. 
In addition as I \C\ have become lower, misreporting and illegal catches have increased so that actual 
catches have usual Is exceeded TACs. In face of this, ICES recommended a total stop on cod fisheries 
in the central Baltic in 1995, with a very low catch permissable for the western Baltic. Nevertheless, 
managers recommended a TAC of 100,000 tonnes for the whole of the Baltic in 1995, meaning that 
a high level ol fishing mortality would continue for the central Baltic stocks. This would be partially 
offset by the appearance in the catch of a reasonable 1991 year-class, but would certainly not allow 
the stock to start recovering. 

Recruitment to the stock has shown a generally declining trend since 1976. This has been ascribed to 
a deterioration in environmental conditions as well as to overharvest. This deterioration was probably 

18 



The Diversity of the Seas 

linked to a decline in salinity and oxygen content of deep water in the Baltic, through eutrophication 
and a lack of major inflows of high salinity water rich in oxygen from the North Sea. Cod eggs sink 
on hatching and may have suffered increased pre-hatching mortality. In 1993 an inflow from the North 
Sea occurred, leading to an amelioration of conditions in the Baltic; however, it is feared that the cod 
spawning stock may be too small to take advantage of this. 

In contrast to cod, herring stocks in the Baltic have experienced decreased fishing mortality and 
increased spawning stock size - the latter is now approaching an estimated 2 million tonnes. It is not 
clear if this change in dominance from a larger predator (cod) to a smaller one (herring) is a parallel 
of the changes in the Black Sea discussed above: certainly causal factors (eutrophication and 
overfishing of large predators) seem to be the same, if less severe in the case of eutrophication. 

Multispecies stock assessment in the form of Multi-Species Virtual Population Analysis (MSVPA) has 
been carried out in the Baltic, in the realisation that stocks of particular species cannot be assessed in 
isolation from their prey and their major predators. In the Baltic the main fish component of the 
marine food web is relatively simple, comprising cod as the only major predator and herring, sprat and 
small cod as the fish prey. Analysis of interactions between these various populations gives a much 
clearer picture of mortality than examination of single species in isolation. One major discovery is the 
importance of cannibalism by cod as a source of juvenile mortality. To date MSVPA has only been 
used in the Baltic in assessment of herring and sprat stocks, but it is hoped to extend this to cod in 
the future. However, without the political will to impose realistic catch limits and the means to enforce 
these limits, it is abundantly clear that stocks here as elsewhere, fishing mortality will continue to 
exceed acceptable limits leading to continuing decline and probably eventually complete collapse of 
the fishery. 

WORLD MARINE CAPTURE FISHERIES 

Annual world landings of aquatic resources have increased nearly five -fold in the last 40 years, from 
22 million tonnes per year between 1948 and 1952 to just over 100 million tonnes in 1989 and 1993 
(FAO, 1990, 1991, 1995a). At that time, almost 70% of total landings were used for human 
consumption, while the remainder were used for animal feed, fertiliser etc. The vast majority of the 
catch (>90%) comprises fishes (marine, diadromous and freshwater). Molluscs, Crustacea and other 
animals are relatively unimportant in terms of global landings, although many species command high 
prices per kg and have a disproportionately high economic value. 

Just over 80% of the 100 million tonnes world landings in 1989 comprised marine capture fisheries, 
the remainder being inland capture fisheries and aquaculture, both marine and freshwater (marine and 
coastal aquaculture is discussed below). After 1989 overall fisheries landings declined to around 97 
million tonnes in 1990 and 1991, increasing to c 99 million tonnes in 1992 and 101 million tonnes 
in 1993. The increase in landings since 1991 has come almost entirely from increases in aquaculture, 
as capture fisheries have continued to decline, although more slowly than the major drop between 1 989 
and 1990. This recent decline is now universally acknowledged to represent a major crisis in the 
world's capture fisheries which will require major commitment, and international cooperation, on the 
part of the world's fishing nations to resolve. Although some progress has been made, there are 
currently few causes for optimism. 

Map 3 (end of book) summarises data on marine capture fisheries and discards in each fishing area. 



19 



The Diversity of the Seas 
Distribution of marine fisheries 

The location of the world's marine fisheries is governed principally by the distribution of the floating 
plants on which they depend for food. Phytoplankton production is principally dependent on adequate 
supplies of nutrients, and is largest in areas of upwelling. 

Climatic fluctuations can greatly alter the pattern of ocean circulation, and hence fisheries production, 
around the world. Perhaps the most famous of these events is the disruption in some years of the 
circulation pattern off the coast of Peru, a phenomenon known as 'El Nino', which intermittently leads 
to the near total collapse of the coastal fisheries. 

The relative importance of the catches in the different fishing areas reflect the differences in 
production. The four major fishing areas (as defined for statistical purposes by FAO) in descending 
order of annual tonnage of landings are the Northwest Pacific, the Southeast Pacific, the Northeast 
Atlantic and the Western Central Pacific. 

Composition of marine fisheries 

Although there are approximately 22,000 species of fish, of which more than 13,000 are marine 
(Nelson, 1984), only a very small fraction are of major commercial importance. FAO statistics (FAO, 
1991) break down aquatic animals and plants into 980 "species items" (species, genera, or families) 
which are then further categorised into 51 groups of species. Of these, only 17 groups contributed 
more than 1% (= one million tonnes) towards total recorded world landings, which approached 100 
million tonnes in 1989. The most important groups were the herrings, sardines and anchovies, of which 
24.5 million tonnes were landed in 1989, followed by the cods, hakes and haddocks, of which 12.8 
million tonnes were landed. 

The fisheries industry is based on a remarkably small number of species. Over one million tonnes each 
of 10 individual marine fish species were caught in 1993: together these comprised 27 million tonnes, 
or just under one third of marine capture fisheries. The single largest species fishery was the 
Anchoveta Engraulis ringens of which 8.3 million tonnes were landed, followed by the Alaska Pollock 
Theragra chalcogramma of which 4.8 million tonnes were landed. 

Recent trends in marine fisheries 

A notable change in the fishing industry in the 1980s was the increase in levels of national and 
international controls designed to ensure the conservation of fish stocks. This reduced the importance 
of long-range fishing in many areas and allowed the development of short- or medium-range fishing 
fleets, (FAO, 1990b). Thus in the early 1970s long-range catches formed 79% of the North-eastern 
Pacific catch, but had declined to only 8% in 1988, having been replaced by local fleets and joint 
fishing ventures (FAO, 1990b). 

The most important step to facilitate the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks has been the 
establishment by coastal states of jurisdiction up to 200 miles from their shores; 99% of the marine 
fisheries catch is currently taken within this limit (FAO, 1990b). Most countries are now declaring or 
have declared 200-mile fishing exclusion zones around their coasts, providing increased potential for 
rational and sustained use of resources, (FAO, 1981). 

Reported world landings have generally increased over the past 25 years. During the 1960s, total 
landings increased steadily as new stocks were discovered, while improved fishing technology and an 



20 



The Diversity of the Seas 

expansion of fishing effort enabled fuller exploitation of existing stocks of both pelagic (surface water 
or open sea) and demersal (deep water or bottom-dwelling) species. Long-range fleets increased in size 
during this period, concentrating their efforts in the richest ocean areas, and were largely responsible 
for the rapid increase in world catches. 

In the early 1970s, the Peruvian anchoveta fishery peaked at just over 13 million tonnes, constituting 
by far the largest single fishery that has ever existed. This then subsequently collapsed, so that for the 
next few years there was very little increase in the total catch. Landings of most demersal fish stocks 
remained relatively constant, implying that they were close to full exploitation and, whilst landings 
of pelagic fish stocks changed from one species to another in certain areas, there was no appreciable 
change in total pelagic landings (FAO, 1990b). Long-range fleets continued to expand in importance. 

The 1980s once again saw a period of continuous growth (averaging 3.8% a year) in world landings. 
As in the 1970s landings of demersal stocks were generally static or declining so that shoaling pelagic 
species provided most of the increase in fish production. In fact, just three pelagic species (Peruvian 
Anchoveta Engraulis ringens, South American Sardine Sardinops sagax, and Japanese Sardine 
Sardinops melanostictus) and one semi-demersal species (Alaska Pollock Theragra chalco gramma) 
accounted for 50% of the increase in world landings during the 1980s (FAO, 1990b). Most of this 
increase appears to have been because of favourable climatic effects on stock sizes rather than new 
fishery developments or improved management practices (FAO, 1990b). 

FAO (1994: Table 4) identifies the four fishery areas showing the largest recorded declines between 
1970 and 1990 in species covered by catch statistics. These are: area 67, the Northeast Pacific, 
corresponding closely to the Northeast Pacific Regional Sea (as defined here); area 21, Northwest 
atlantic, contained within the North Atlantic Region (again, not a UNEP Regional Sea); and 47, the 
Southeast Atlantic, which includes parts of the West and Central Africa Regional Sea area and South 
Africa. 

The three major problems in world capture fisheries are overfishing of target stocks; increased 
mortality of non-target species though bycatches and ghost fishing; habitat alteration and destruction 
through use of intrusive fishing methods. 

Overfishing 

Direct overfishing - at its simplest, the removal of fishes faster than they can reproduce - is the most 
obvious threat to world fisheries. FAO (1995) have estimated that around 70% of major fish stocks 
(including finfishes and marine invertebrates) which have been assessed are overexploited or in serious 
danger of being so (that is fully fished, overfished, depleted or recovering). The proportion of high 
value fisheries (eg. many demersal finfishes such as cod and hake, many crustacean fisheries) in this 
state is even higher. There are three major reasons for this. First, and most fundamental, most fisheries 
have traditionally been regarded as an "open access" resource, so that, in essence, it pays any one 
fisher to harvest as much as possible at any given time because if they do not, somebody else will. 
Secondly, technological innovations have made fishing much more efficient. Thirdly, extreme over- 
capitalisation of the world's commercial fishing fleet (partly a consequence of the nature of fisheries 
as an open access resource but also for complex socio-economic and political reasons) has intensified 
fishing pressure. 

Attempts to date to control overfishing have been largely unsuccessful. Not only is enforcement of 
regulations often extremely difficult and expensive, but in many cases there is strong political pressure 



21 



The Diversity of the Seas 

to set catch limits higher than those recommended by fisheries scientists. Furthermore, there is 
increasing evidence that the single-species population models generally used to assess fish stocks and 
make recommendations for catch limits have been too simplistic, as they do not adequately take into 
account interactions between species and environmental perturbations. Fisheries models which take into 
account these factors are being developed, but are very complex and as yet generally experimental. 

Bycatches and discards 

A 1994 FAO global assessment of bycatches and discards estimated that 18 to 40 million tonnes (mean 
27 million tonnes) of marine fisheries catch were discarded annually. This represented just over 25% 
of annual estimated total catch (ie. landings represent around 75% of actual catch). Although figures 
are not available, it is generally assumed that a large proportion of discards die. Further losses are 
caused by mortality of animals which escape from fishing gear during fishery operations, but it is 
impossible at present to estimate the importance of this. Shrimp fishing produces the largest volume 
of discards (around 9 million tonnes annually). 

Bycatches include non-target, often low-value or "trash" species, as well as undersized fish of target 
species. Non-target species may include marine mammals, reptiles (sea-turtles) and seabirds, as well 
as finfishes and invertebrates. Of particular concern in recent years has been mortality of marine 
mammals, especially dolphins, in pelagic drift nets, of sea-turtles in shrimp trawls and more recently, 
of diving seabirds, especially albatrosses, in long-line fisheries. 

Discarding may be a side-effect of management systems intended to regulate fisheries (eg. non- 
transferable quotas may cause discarding of over-quota catch; species-specific licensing may cause 
discard of non-license but still commercially valuable species). 

Solutions to bycatches and discards will be found essentially through improvement in the selectivity 
of fishing gear and fishing methods. Much of the research in this has been carried out in higher 
latitudes and is not readily transferable to multispecies tropical fisheries, where the tropical shrimp 
trawls still produce high rates of by-catch. Improved utilisation of by-catch either as fish-meal or 
human food-fish is also a possibility; however, this does not address the problem of mortality of 
potentially threatened species (sea turtles, seabirds, cetaceans), nor the wasteful capture of immature 
specimens of harvestable species. 

FAO estimate that it should be possible to reduce discards by 60% by the year 2000 by: a concentrated 
effort to improve the selectivity of fishing gear; the development of international standards for 
research; greater interaction between research staff, industry and fisheries managers; and the 
application of technology through fisheries regulations. Where overfishing is occurring and quotas set 
in response, eg. in EU waters, it may be unrealistic to expect radical reduction in discarding without 
similar reduction in effort. 

A further problem in the efficient utilisation of marine resources is post-harvest loss. It is almost 
impossible to estimate this accurately, but FAO believe it to exceed 5 million tonnes per year (ie. 
around 5% of harvest). Most significant are physical losses of dried fish to insect infestations and loss 
of fresh fish through spoilage. These problems are particularly significant in developing countries. 

Habitat destruction 

It is increasingly evident that some fishing methods, most extensively bottom-trawling but also 
techniques such as dynamite fishing and muro-ami (using rocks on ropes to drive fishes into nets), can 

22 



The Diversity of the Seas 

have a highly disruptive influence on marine benthic habitats. It has been estimated, for example, that 
every spot in the southern part of the North Sea is trawled by a bottom trawler on average more than 
once a year (FAO, 1995). In this case, beam trawling has the most damaging effect whereas other 
trawling (eg. otter trawling) has relatively little. Trawlers tend to return over the same tracks because 
catch may increase for a period as fishes move in to feed on dead or moribund individuals. On the 
other hand, some areas of seabed cannot be trawled because of obstructions. The direct impact of 
trawling on marine benthic communities is inadequately understood at present but is bound to be 
severe. More work is clearly needed in this area. 

MARINE AQUACULTURE 

Given the universally acknowledged crisis in world capture fisheries, attention is increasingly focusing 
on aquaculture as a means of meeting human food requirements. FAO (1995a) calculate that to 
maintain present per capita fish consumption levels of 13.00 kg per head per year to the year 2010, 
91 million tonnes of foodfish (both finfishes and aquatic invertebrates) would be required. This is an 
increase of some 19 million tonnes over estimated actual foodfish production in 1993. There is no 
realistic likelihood of obtaining this increase from capture fisheries. Indeed in view of the general 
failure to manage these fisheries effectively, it seems as if yields from capture fisheries (both marine 
and inland) will almost certainly decline, at least in the short to medium term. 

The only realistic hope of meeting this target, therefore, is through increased aquaculture production. 
If capture fisheries remain roughly constant over this period, doubling of current (1993) world 
aquaculture production will cover the shortfall and lead to aquaculture providing over 40% of all fish 
for human consumption. FAO consider this a real possibility, albeit a challenging one. 

Aquaculture involves the rearing in water of animals or plants in a process in which at least one phase 
of growth is controlled or enhanced by human action. The animals used are generally finfishes, 
molluscs and crustaceans although a number of other groups are also cultured in small quantities (eg. 
sea-squirts phylum Tunicata, sponges phylum Porifera, frogs and marine turtles). Aquaculture of plants 
largely involves various seaweeds. 

Currently, some 60% of world animal aquaculture production by weight is inland, the remainder being 
classified as marine or brackish. Freshwater aquaculture will not be further considered here. Data used 
are almost exclusively from FAO. 

Finfish Production 

Aquaculture of finfish is still very heavily dominated by production of herbivorous freshwater species, 
especially carp and other cyprinids. This group alone accounted for over 75% of estimated production 
of c 9.4 million tonnes in 1992, most of this in China, whose production of nearly 5 million tonnes 
of freshwater fishes in 1992 accounts for over half of all finfish aquaculture. Marine and brackish 
water aquaculture accounts for somewhat over 10% of global production (over 1 million tonnes in 
1992). Some 30% of this consists of production of the herbivorous milkfish Chanos chanos in two 
south-east Asian countries, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

Crustacean aquaculture 

Between 1984 and 1992 annual production by aquaculture of crustaceans, 90% of which is in marine 
and brackish water species, grew over threefold to nearly 1 million tonnes. This represents just under 



23 



The Diversity of the Seas 

20% of annual crustacean production. Along with the salmonids, this was the fastest growth of any 
form of aquaculture. 

The great majority of marine crustacean aquaculture takes place in Asia and is dominated by Penaeus 
species; globally this genus produces over 90% of aquaculture crustacean supply by weight. The Giant 
Tiger Prawn Penaeus monodon is the most widely cultivated and accounts for nearly half of all 
aquaculture production. The two other important species are P. chinensis which is cultured in China 
and accounts for around one quarter of production, and the Whiteleg Shrimp Penaeus vannamei which 
is cultured in the Americas and normally accounts for just under 15% of estimated global supply, 
around 90% of this originating in Ecuador. Other marine crustaceans cultivated include other Penaeus 
species, some Metapenaeus, and spiny lobsters Panulirus. These groups, however, make an 
insignificant contribution to global supply. 

Growth in crustacean aquaculture has been fuelled by the high value of the product: the market in 
1993 was estimated to be worth over US$6 billion (FAO, 1995). Production is aimed at the export 
market, primarily to Europe, the USA and Japan, and to a lesser extent at the domestic luxury market. 
Pressure is high to produce maximum returns on investment so that increasingly intensive farming 
methods are used. These are widely acknowledged to be having adverse social and environmental 
impacts in the countries of production, as well as leading to increasing difficulties in maintaining 
supply, owing to the spread of major diseases. Impacts include: 

loss of mangrove habitat; 
abstraction of freshwater; 

introduction of pathogens and other damaging non-native species; 
escape of cultured non-native species; 
pollution; 

diversion of low quality or cheap fish food resources (may lead to more efficient use of by-catches 
and trash fish, but may lead to more indiscriminate catch fisheries); 
• diversion of effort from other forms of aquaculture (notably milkfish Chanos chanos). 

Mollusc aquaculture 

Virtually all production of molluscs by aquaculture takes place in marine water, with a small amount 
recorded by FAO as occurring in brackish water and negligible quantities in freshwater. Overall 
production in 1993 was just over 4 million tonnes, considerably more than the production of marine 
and brackish water finfishes and crustaceans combined. Mariculture accounts for nearly 40% of all 
mollusc production, a far higher proportion than either finfishes or crustaceans. It has generally grown 
more slowly over the past decade than marine and brackish water finfish or crustacean production; 
indeed productivity largely stagnated between 1988 and 1991. However, 1992 and 1993 have shown 
large rises, so that 1993 production is over twice that of 1984 production. 

Most of the increase in production from 1984 to 1993 can be attributed to one country: China. In 1993 
just over 2.2 million tonnes of molluscs (54% of all mollusc mariculture) originated in China, over 
six times the quantity produced by that country in 1984. The rest of Asia accounted for around 1.1 
million tonnes in 1993, a relatively small increase over 1984 production (830,000 tonnes). In total, 
therefore, Asia now accounts for around 80% of all mollusc mariculture production. Most of the 
remainder (c 560,000 tonnes or around 14%) originates in Europe, where production has declined 
slightly since 1984. Production in North America has also declined, while that in Oceania (chiefly New 
Zealand and Australia) has increased more than three-fold (to nearly 60,000 tonnes, which is still only 
1.5% of global production). 

24 



The Diversity of the Seas 

FAO record aquaculture of around 50 species of mollusc, virtually all bivalves. Some production is 
classified only to family or genus level although is unlikely to involve a significant number of 
additional species. As with most culture systems, production is heavily skewed to a small number of 
taxa. In 1993 one species, the Japanese or Yesso Scallop Pecten yessoensis, accounted for nearly one 
quarter of all mollusc production. Three quarters of production was in China, the remainder in Japan. 
The two other important groups are mussels (Mytilidae) and oysters (mainly Crassostrea). 

MARINE ECOSYSTEMS AND MANAGEMENT 

Problems with managing human use of the oceans 

All marine resources outside territorial waters (usually up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from shore) were 
traditionally considered 'open-access' resources. This covered most of the world's oceans and virtually 
all deep-sea areas. These resources were theoretically highly susceptible to overexploitation, although, 
with a few exceptions (eg. whales), harvesting technologies until relatively recently were not 
sufficiently sophisticated to pose a serious threat. In the past few decades this has changed dramatically 
and many open-ocean resources have been gravely depleted leading to the collapse of a number of 
fisheries, sometimes bringing individuals and nations into conflict. With the introduction of the 
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea 
(UNCLOS), which allows nations control over resources (including living resources) in an area up to 
200 nm offshore, a far greater proportion of the world's seas now come within the control of 
individual nations. 

This control should theoretically allow better management of resources in these areas, although 
improvements are not yet generally apparent. The reasons for this are complex. In part they are the 
result of a lack of resources (financial and technical) and, sometimes, political will on the part of 
nations to invest heavily in management of the marine biosphere; in part they are a product of the 
ecological characteristics of marine areas. 

There is a fundamental distinction between the processes and patterns observed in open oceans, 
dominated by global winds and large-scale vertical and horizontal movement of water masses, and 
those observed nearer to coasts, where shelf bathymetry, coastal winds and local input of nutrients, 
pollutants and sediments generate a diversity of smaller-scale phenomena. 

Coastal and near-shore waters, along with smaller sea basins (eg. Mediterranean), make up one of the 
four primary domains defined by Longhurst (1995) in an approach intended to classify the entire world 
ocean within a coherent oceanographic system. Long-term and geographically extensive data on sea 
surface colour (obtained by the CZCS radiometer carried by the Nimbus orbiting satellite during 1978- 
1986) were analysed. These data reflect chlorophyll concentrations and remain the only observation 
of a biological feature over the entire world ocean (Longhurst, 1995). Estimates of primary production 
rates, and changes over time, have been generated on a one-degree grid (Longhurst et al. 1995). These 
values, together with numerous other data sets, have been used as the basis of a classification of the 
world ocean into four ecological domains and 56 biogeochemical provinces (Longhurst, 1995). 

Sherman and Busch (1995; and see AAAS 1986-1993) have identified a large number of ecosystem 
units based on the world's coastal and continental shelf waters, and discuss at some length the 



25 



The Diversity of the Seas 

problems and challenges of assessing human use of marine ecosystems. They regard the concept of 
the Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) as central to such analysis. LMEs are: 

Regions of ocean space encompassing near-coastal areas from river basins and estuaries 
out to the seaward boundary of continental shelves and the seaward margins of coastal 
current systems. They are relatively large regions of the order of 200,000 km 2 or larger, 
characterised by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent 
populations. 

Nearly 95% of the usable annual global biomass yield of fishes and other living marine resources is 
produced within 49 identified LMEs which lie within and immediately adjacent to the boundaries of 
EEZs of coastal nations (Sherman and Busch, 1995). 

Many LMEs include the coastal waters of more than one state. In these cases, it will be effectively 
impossible for individual nations to assess whether their use of marine resources is sustainable in 
isolation from neighbouring nations. Coordination between states in monitoring and resource 
management will thus become increasingly necessary as the pressures placed on these areas increase. 
At present no single international body is in a position to coordinate action and reconcile the needs 
of individual nations operating within particular LMEs. 

It appears that the long-term sustainability of resource species in coastal ecosystems as sources for 
healthy economies is diminishing. A growing awareness of these problems has accelerated efforts to 
assess, monitor, and reduce the stresses on coastal ecosystems (Sherman, 1994). A strategy for 
implementing a biodiversity inventory and monitoring programme for the LMEs is given in the Global 
Biodiversity Assessment volume (UNEP, 1995). 

A critical need in monitoring marine ecosystems is the development of a consistent long-term database 
for understanding between-year changes and multi-year trends in biomass yields. For example, during 
the late 1960s when there was intense fishing within the Northeast US Continental Shelf LME, marked 
alterations in fish abundances were observed. The biomass of economically important finfish species 
(eg. cod, haddock, flounders) declined by approximately 50%. This was followed by increases in the 
biomass of small elasmobranchs (dogfish and skates), and led to the conclusion that the overall 
carrying capacity of the ecosystem for finfish did not change (Anthony 1993; Collie 1991). However, 
the excessive fishing effort on the more highly valued species allowed for the lower-valued 
elasmobranchs to increase in abundance. Management of marine fisheries will need to take these kinds 
of species dominance shifts into account in developing strategies for long-term, economic sustainability 
of the fisheries (Anthony, 1993; Murowski, 1996). The theory, measurement, and modelling relevant 
to monitoring the changing states of LMEs are discussed in reports on ecosystems with multiple steady 
states, and on the pattern formation and spatial diffusion within ecosystems (AAAS, 1986, 1989, 1990, 
1991, 1993; Beddington 1984; Levin, 1993; Mangel, 1991). 

Among the LMEs being assessed, monitored, and managed from a more holistic ecosystem perspective 
are the Yellow Sea (Tang, 1989); the Benguela Current (Crawford et al, 1989); the Great Barrier Reef 
(Kelleher, 1993); the Northwest Australia Continental Shelf (Sainsbury, 1988); and the Antarctic 
marine ecosystem (Scully et al, 1986). Movement toward ecosystem-level assessment, monitoring and 
management is emerging also for the North Sea (NSQSR, 1993); the Barents Sea (Eikeland, 1992); 
and the Black Sea (Hey and Mee, 1993). The driving forces of variability in biodiversity and biomass 
yields are currently being examined in several LMEs. 



26 



The Diversity of the Seas 

Programmes intended to enhance sustainability and ecosystem health are being implemented for several 
LMEs adjacent to developing nations. The programmes are being supported by international agencies 
as part of an effort by the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, UNDP, and UNEP to assist 
countries in: (1) conducting transboundary diagnostic analayses that would identify priority 
transboundary productivity, and environmental concerns; (2) developing a Strategic Action Programme 
(SAP) to address high priority assessment, monitoring, and management actions; and (3) implementing 
use of science-based technologies and innovations in these activities. 

A principal objective of the World Bank/GEF financial support for implementing an LME-oriented 
Strategic Action Programme is to aid countries bordering an LME to achieve long-term socio- 
economic benefit from the shared ecosystem resources, in accordance with the UNCED declaration 
on the oceans. This recommends that nations: (1) prevent, reduce, and control degradation of the 
marine environment, so as to maintain and improve its life-support and productive capacities; (2) 
develop and increase the potential of marine living resources to meet human nutritional needs, and 
other socio-economic goals; and (3) promote the integrated management and sustainable development 
of coastal areas and marine environment. Within the context of the UNCED oceans declaration, the 
GEF Operational Guidelines note the importance of measures to ensure biodiversity protection (GEF, 
1996). 

The GEF has included Large Marine Ecosystems as a focus for funding proposals under the 
International Waters Programme. Interest is growing among coastal countries in Asia and Africa in 
developing LME projects within this programme. Countries participating in the Gulf of Guinea GEF 
project are Benin, Cameroon, Cote dTvoire, Ghana and Nigeria. Other countries in the advanced 
planning stage of LME projects include: Kenya and Tanzania, focusing on the Somali Coastal Current 
LME; Angola, Namibia and South Africa (Benguela Current LME); China and South Korea (Yellow 
Sea LME); Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand (Bay of Bengal 
LME). 



27 



REGIONAL ACCOUNTS 



The first section below is intended to give a short comparative review of some of the data presented 
in the subsequent regional accounts. The next section provides information on sources and data quality 
and coverage; this is followed by a series of standardised accounts of each Regional Sea. 



REVIEW OF REGIONAL DATA 

Congruence of areas defined for different purposes 

If Large Marine Ecosystem units were congruent with areas under the jurisdiction of individual 
countries or areas subject to international agreements negotiated by countries, and with statistical areas 
for reporting of marine fishery catches, the planning and implementation of integrated management 
would be in principle straightforward, insofar as it is technically possible. The extent of mismatch 
between these geographic areas must be a major determinant of the difficulty involved in effecting 
such management. It may be instructive to examine the extent of congruence and mismatch, taking 
the political framework of the Regional Seas areas as the primary reference, because all management 
procedures are ultimately undertaken by countries participating in such a framework or acting 
independently at national level. 

There is complete or near complete congruence between Regional Seas, LMEs and FAO areas in only 
five of the 19 regions. 

The Black Sea and Mediterranean areas, numbered 1 and 2 respectively in this document, are entirely 
congruent with the Black Sea and Mediterranean LMEs, numbered 26 and 25 respectively in Map 2. 
Fisheries in both areas together are jointly reported as FAO area 37. The Southeast Pacific overlaps 
with the Humboldt Current LME, #13 and with FAO fishery area #87. Antarctica (not a UNEP 
Regional Sea), corresponds with the Antarctic LME, #49, and FAO areas 48, 58, and 88. The very 
large South Pacific region includes LMEs 11,39 and 40; Insular Pacific- Hawaii, Great Barrier Reef 
and New Zealand Shelf, respectively. The region includes large parts of three FAO fishery areas. 

Nine of the remaining Regional Seas include entire LMEs and parts of other LMEs shared with 
adjacent Regional Seas areas. The Northwest Pacific and North Atlantic (not a formal Regional Seas 
area) are particularly complex; these include, respectively, ten and six LMEs and share four and two 
others. 

Four of the remaining areas include only LMEs shared with other regions; the Southwest Australia 
region (not a UNEP Regional Sea) does not include a defined LME. 

Considering only the extent to which UNEP Regional Seas correspond with Large Marine Ecosystems, 
and ignoring other relevant international agreements, and the innumerable other factors involved, it 
might be expected that ecosystem-based planning has highest likelihood of success in the Black Sea, 
Mediterranean, Southeast Pacific, South Pacific and Antarctica. At the other extreme are those regions 
that do not include an entire LME within their boundaries: South Africa, Kuwait, South Asia, Arctic. 
The first and last of these are not UNEP Regional Seas areas; the first-named included the inshore 
marine waters of a single nation. The present damaged state of the Black Sea ecosystem, where a 
Regional Sea area and associated Convention corresponds with an entire LME, gives little cause for 
optimism in more complex cases. 



28 



The Diversity of the Seas 
Table 8 Congruence between Regional Seas areas, LMEs and FAO fishery areas 



Regional Seas area 


Large Marine Ecosystem 


FAO fishing area 


1 Black Sea 


26 


(37) 


2 Mediterranean 


25 


(37) 


3 North Atlantic* 


6, 7, 8. 9. (10). (17), 18, (19), 20, 
21, 23, 24, (27), 48 


21, 27, (34) 


4 Caribbean 


5, (6), 12, (16) 


31 


5 Southwest Atlantic 


14, 15, (16) 


41 


6 West & Central Africa 


(27), 28, (29) 


(34. 47) 


7 South Africa* 


(29, 30) 


(47,51) 


8 East Africa 


(30). 31 


(51) 


9 Red Sea & Gulf of Aden 


(32), 33 


(51) 


10 Kuwait 


(32) 


(51) 


11 South Asia 


(32, 34) 


(51,57) 


12 East Asian Seas 


(34), 35, 36, 37, 38 


(57, 61, 71) 


13 Northwest Pacific 


(1), 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, (47) 


(61) 


14 Northeast Pacific* 


(1), 2, 3, 4 


67, (77) 


15 Southeast Pacific 


13 


87 


16 South Pacific 


11, 39,40 


(71,77, 81) 


17 Southwest Australia* 


- 


(57) 


18 Antarctica* 


49 


48, 58, 88 


19 Arctic* 


(10, 17, 19) 


18, (27) 



Notes: An asterisk indicates areas defined for the purpose of this document that are not components of the UNEP Regional 
Seas programme. Numbers in the LME column refer to areas identified in Map 2; numbers in the FAO column are the 
standard codes for statistical fishery areas (see Annex II). Numbers in parentheses ( ) indicate areas shared between more 
than one Regional Seas area. 

Biodiversity in UNEP Regional Seas Areas 

Biodiversity data tabulated and briefly discussed in each regional account below vary in quality and 
refer to a limited number of groups of organisms. Nevertheless, they are reasonably sound overall and 
cover a wide range of groups (in terms of body size, systematic position and ecological role), and so 
may be taken as indicative of general levels of biodiversity in each Regional Seas area. These data 
refer to absolute levels of species richness, which is the parameter of interest in the present context. 
Within broad latitude bands, the values, as might be expected, tend to be positively correlated with 
the area of each region. 



29 



The Diversity of the Seas 

Figure 6 Species richness and endemism in groups assessed in Regional Seas areas 



East Asia 

South Pacific 



Car ibbean 

Nor t hwest Pac i f i c 



Notes: Black = irnJcmu species, grey tone = non-endemic species. Y axis shows numbers of species. X axis refers to 
regions as follows I Ulaek Sea. 2 Mediterranean, 3 North Atlantic, 4 Caribbean, 5 Southwest Atlantic, 6 West & Central 
Africa, 7 South Mruj K last Africa, 9 Red Sea & Gulf of Aden, 10 Kuwait, 11 South Asia, 12 East Asian Seas, 13 
Northwest Paeilu 14 Northeast Pacific, 15 Southeast Pacific, 16 South Pacific, 17 Southwest Australia, 18 Antarctica, 19 
Arctic. Bar graph relers onl\ lo groups assessed in this document. 

Two regions stand out us being particularly rich in species: East Asian Seas and South Pacific. The 
Caribbean and Northwest Pacific head the remaining regions, but overall these last show a steady 
decrease in total species number. Consideration of additional groups would probably change the 
sequence ol regions in terms of overall species richness, but it appears likely that the East Asian Seas 
region would continue to support the highest number. 

The East Asian Seas region has the most species overall (in the groups covered here): it has more 
corals (assessed at generic level), molluscs, shrimps, lobsters and sharks. The South Pacific has most 
seagrass species, and by far the most seabird species, has jointly with the Southwest Atlantic the most 
cetaceans, and has the second-highest totals of molluscs, lobsters and sharks. The Caribbean and 
Northwest Pacifk have generally high numbers of species in most groups. 

Regions w ith the highest species totals are not always those with the most endemic species. The South 
Pacific has the most regionally-endemic molluscs and lobsters, by far the most endemic seabirds 
(corresponding with maximum seabird species), and, with East Asia, has the equal highest count of 
endemic sharks The Caribbean region is generally rich in endemic species: the region has most 
endemic coral genera, the second highest number of endemic lobsters and of sharks. The Northwest 
Pacific has. with Southwest Australia, equal highest number of endemic seagrasses and a good number 
of endemic lobsters. Three regions bordering the Pacific Ocean each have remarkably high counts of 
endemic seabirds, in descending order: South Pacific, Southeast Pacific and Northeast Pacific. The last 
two regions each have two endemic pinnipeds, surpassed only by Antarctica, which has four. 
Antarctica also has the fourth highest number of endemic seabirds (and a high total seabird species 
count). 



30 



The Diversity of the Seas 
Figure 7 Species richness and endemism in selected groups in Regional Seas areas 



seagrasses 



* ™ ' I I J I I L 



.ll.l 



cora I genera 



] . ■ i i 1 t 1 t_ 



Jul 



1 2 3 4 5 E 7 8 9 10 11 1? 13 14 15 16 n 16 19 



2 3 4 5 6 7 B 9 10 11 12 13 14 IS 16 17 IS 19 



mo I I uses 



I obsterE 



■-„ . ■■■-! 



2 3 4 5 5 7 B 9 10 11 1S 13 14 15 16 17 1B 19 



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 B 9 10 11 12 13 W 15 16 17 16 19 



sharkE 



-!■ . ■_ , ■!■■■! 



seab i rds 



jiL 



-l 2 3 4 5 S 7 B 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 1B 19 



2 3 4 5 G 1 B 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 19 



Notes: Black = endemic species, grey tone = non-endemic species. Y axis shows relative numbers of species. X axis refers 
to regions as follows: 1 Black Sea, 2 Mediterranean, 3 North Atlantic, 4 Caribbean, 5 Southwest Atlantic, 6 West & Central 
Africa, 7 South Africa, 8 East Africa, 9 Red Sea & Gulf of Aden, 10 Kuwait, 11 South Asia, 12 East Asian Seas, 
13 Northwest Pacific, 14 Northeast Pacific, 15 Southeast Pacific, 16 South Pacific, 17 Southwest Australia, 18 Antarctica, 
19 Arctic. Bar graph refers only to groups assessed in this document. 



31 



The Diversity of the Seas 

The same three regions with most endemic 
seabirds (South Pacific, Southeast Pacific and 
Northeast Pacific) also have the highest number 
of endemic seabirds categorised as globally- 
threatened, and as with total seabird species, the 
South Pacific has by far the most: 22, followed 
by six and five. These same regions, in the same 
sequence, have most threatened cetaceans and 
pinnipeds (the absolute numbers are relatively 
low: four, three, two). 

The conservation status of most of the species 
tabulated above as endemic to the various 
regions has not been assessed, and nor in many 
cases is their detailed distribution within a 
region well-known; these qualifications apply in 
particular to the invertebrate animals. No attempt 
has been made, at the scale of this analysis, to 
collate information on species that are threatened 
within a region but not globally, or which are 
threatened globally and occur within more than 
one region (eg. cetaceans). 



Figure 8 Globally-threatened species endemic to 
Regional Seas areas in groups assessed in this 

document. Grey tone = seabirds. Black = marine mammals. 
Only shows regions with >2 threatened species in group. 



LJL 



SE Pac NE Pac 



Regions bordering the Pacific Ocean tend overall to be among the most species-rich, and to have high 
numbers of endemics. Whilst the preliminary and indicative nature of these assessments should be 
noted, at a macro scale these findings clearly point to regions where action to maintain overall levels 
of biodiversity should be pursued. 



NOTES AND SOURCES 

As outlined in the Introduction, the intention of this document is to present thematic information in 
a format that begins to meet the need for an integrated and regional approach to biodiversity 
assessment and planning in the marine sphere. 

The remaining part of the report consists of a region by region presentation of information on different 
themes central to marine biodiversity management. The regional framework adopted is based on the 
UNEP Regional Seas programme. Within each regional setting we have assembled information on 
Large Marine Ecosystems, biodiversity and fisheries issues. 

Map 1 shows the approximate geographic area covered by each Regional Seas agreement (note that 
this is not an official UNEP representation of these areas and it implies no expression of opinion in 
respect of national boundaries). The map distinguishes those regions to which a formal Convention 
applies from those without a formal agreement. A number of countries or regions are either not 
associated with a UNEP Regional Sea or have parts of the coast thus associated, but not all parts (eg. 
Australia). Such areas outside the present Regional Seas framework have been here defined as 
'regions' for the purposes of this document, and are also indicated on the map. The regions so defined 
are: North Atlantic, South Africa, Northeast Pacific, Southwest Australia. The map does not represent 



32 



The Diversity of the Seas 

the Arctic and Antarctic regions used herein and which also are not formally part of the Regional Seas 
programme. 

Geopolitical coverage 

The scope of each region has been indicated by the list of countries or territories under the main 
heading of each regional account. Names in bold indicate countries or territories participating in the 
UNEP Regional Seas programme for that region. If in bold and italics (eg. Mexico) the country has 
different coastlines bordering two different Regional Seas region; if in bold but not italicized (eg. 
Kenya), the country is involved in a single region. Names in plain font are countries not at present 
participating in the Regional Seas programme, or countries within the regions defined solely for this 
document. 

Large Marine Ecosystems 

The map included in this document (Map 2) has been produced with permission from generalised 
published maps (eg. Sherman, 1994; Sherman and Busch, 1995) and the descriptions have been 
compiled from these sources and from draft descriptive text kindly made available by Kenneth 
Sherman. The boundaries of LMEs cannot always be precisely defined, and this map is for guidance 
only. 

Biodiversity 

With some exceptions, the fauna and flora of the coastal and marine regions discussed in this 
document remain very incompletely known. Our intention here has been to collate or assemble global 
datasets that can together provide a useful and coherent indication of comparative biodiversity at the 
regional level. The values given for species richness and endemism in the regional accounts that follow 
must be taken as approximations. No attempt has been made to collate biodiversity data that refer only 
to a locality or region but that are incomplete at global level and so not immediately of use for 
comparative purposes. 

Seagrasses Information collated from Phillips and Menez (1988). 

Coral genera Data derived from maps in Veron (1993), these refer to reef-building (hermatypic) corals 
at the generic level. 

Molluscs The data refer to marine mollusc species, primarily coastal and shallow-water marine forms 
in the classes Gastropoda and Bivalvia, that produce shells of commercial and scientific interest. This 
sample constitutes around 15% of all the marine species in these classes, but a far higher proportion 
of the continental shelf species that are of significant size. 

Shrimps and prawns The data cover species traditionally placed in the decapod suborder Natantia 
(shrimps and prawns) which are of interest to fisheries, being either used for human consumption, as 
bait or for processing, or which might have potential commercial value. All figures were derived from 
information in Holthius (1980). 

Lobsters The data cover species traditionally placed in the decapod suborder Reptantia (including 
Astacidea, marine lobsters and freshwater crayfish; Palinuridea, spiny lobsters; Thalassinidea, mud 
lobsters) which are of interest to fisheries, being either used for human consumption, as bait or for 



33 



The Diversity of the Seas 

processing, or which might have potential commercial value. All figures were derived from 
information in Holthius (1991). 

Sharks Data collated from maps and text in Compagno (1984a, 1984b). Information on endemic 
species in the three regional sea areas around Australia has been revised according to Last and Stevens 
(1994); the information on total shark species in these areas has not been harmonised with Compagno 
(1984a, 1984b). 

Seabirds The birds treated here as seabirds are those listed by Croxall et al. (1984) and Croxall 
(1991). Taxonomy follows Sibley and Monroe (1990 & 1993). These accounts have been 
supplemented by numerous national and regional checklists. The data tables refer to species breeding 
in the region. 

Marine mammals Data principally from Reijnders et al. (1993) and Jefferson et al. (1993). 

Fisheries 

Information principally from publications of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, including 
FAO 1995a, 1995b. 



34 




BLACK SEA 

Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine 

LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

The Black Sea, which comprises a single LME, covers 

some 461,000 km 2 in southeast Europe, approximately 

between 27-4 1°E and 41-47°N. It is relatively deep; 

most of it exceeds 500 m in depth and much of the 

central part reaches 2,000 m (max 2,212 m). There are 

extensive shallow water areas along the western and 

northern shores, in the latter particularly where the 15,000 km 2 Sea of Azov is largely isolated from 

the rest of the Black Sea by the Crimean Peninsula, and has a mean depth of only 8 m. The Black Sea 

is almost entirely landlocked but receives some inflow of saline water (and aquatic organisms) from 

the Mediterranean by way of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus Channel, which is 31 km long 

with an average width of only 1 .6 km. Major water input comes from a series of large rivers which 

flow into the northern and western parts of the Black Sea. These are the Danube, which contributes 

c 200 km 3 of water annually, the Dnieper (c 54 km 3 per year), Don (28 km 3 per year, into the Sea of 

Azov), Kuban (13 km 3 ) and Dniester (c 9 km 3 per year). 

The waters of the Black Sea are horizontally separated (at around 150-200 m depth) by a permanent 
salinity boundary; the upper surface layer is oxygenated and had reduced salinity, the waters below 
this lack oxygen but are rich in hydrogen sulphide. Over 90% of the volume of the sea is therefore 
essentially without life apart from anaerobic bacteria. Inflow of water from the major river systems 
coupled with limited outflow have led to the Black Sea being nutrient-rich and highly productive, 
although of lower diversity than the adjacent Mediterranean. 



BIODIVERSITY 

Black Sea Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



T % 



endemic T % 



seagrasses 
coral genera 
molluscs 
shrimps 
lobsters 



- 


4 


8 


sharks 


- 





- 


seabirds 





6 





cetaceans 





6 


2 


sirenians 





1 





pinnipeds 



1 

1 17 6 

3 3 



1 3 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



35 



Black Sea 

Black Sea Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name common name status 

seabirds Larus armenicus Armenian gull 



Biodiversity notes 

Diversity in general is low. Four species of seagrass reportedly occur, mainly in the south, none is 
endemic. There arc no hermatypic coral genera in the Black Sea. There are very few molluscs and 
larger crustaceans. Only one species of shark has been recorded, although this may well be an 
underestimate. No sea turtle species is known to nest in the Black Sea; the Green Turtle Chelonia 
mydas and Loggerhead Caretta caretta have been recorded in Black Sea waters. Seabird diversity is 
low, although one species is endemic to the region. Three species of cetacean have been recorded. 
One of these, the Harbour Porpoise Phocoena phocoena, was formerly abundant but is now very 
reduced in numbers There are no sirenians in the Black Sea, but one pinniped, the Mediterranean 
Monk Seal Moiuichus monachus (Critically Endangered) was formerly present, although is now 
believed extinct there. 



FISHERIES 

The Black Sea is pan of FAO area 37 (Mediterranean and Black Sea). See discussion on the Black 
Sea in Introduction Some twenty-six species of fishes have traditionally been commercially harvested 
in the Black Sea. including valuable taxa such as sturgeon, bluefish, bonito and turbot. 

There was a dramatic expansion in fisheries effort during the 1960s by most of the nations bordering 
the sea. This appears 10 have been linked with an increase in marine productivity because of increasing 
nutrient loads, although this went on to have an adverse effect on the Black Sea benthos. The larger 
and most valuable species (including sturgeons, river herring, and pelagic migratory species such as 
bonito and blueiisln rapidly became overfished, along with Porpoise Phocoena phocoena, within the 
Black Sea and in the Sea of Marmara. Severe reductions in the populations of these mainly predatory 
species, coupled » ith the increasing nutrient load, seem to have led to a increase in biomass of small 
pelagic species, most notably of the anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus. Declared landings, mostly of 
anchovy, rose Irom a previous level of around 350,000-400,000 tonnes to nearly 1 million tonnes 
during the laic l')""()s. During the same period, there was a general decrease in diversity of planktonic 
species and rapid blooms of one species of zooplankton {Noctiluca miliaris). In the 1980s there was 
dramatic increase in numbers of the jellyfish Aurelia aurita, whose biomass in the sea was estimated 
to reach an extraordinary 450 million tonnes at that time. 

The anchow fisheries collapsed at the end of the 1980s: declared harvest in the Black Sea proper 
(excluding the Sea of Azov) decreased from 520,000 tonnes in 1988 to around 160,000 tonnes in 
1989; the Sea ol Azov anchovy catch declined from 30,000 tonnes in 1986 to virtually zero in 1989. 
Overall catch has continued to decline, dropping to below 100,000 tonnes in 1990 and 1991. 

Overfishing is an important factor, but biologists believe that the accidental introduction of the 
predatory ctenophore (comb-jelly) Mnemiopsis leidyi to Black Sea waters has been a major cause. This 
species is native to estuaries in North America and believed to have been introduced in discharged 



36 



Black Sea 

ballast water from oil tankers. This comb-jelly feeds on plankton, including fish eggs and fry, and 
appears to have no known predators in the Black Sea. Populations of this species exploded in the late 
1980s and subsequently decreased, although the species is now well established, with seasonal blooms 
which occur during the breeding season. 



37 




MEDITERRANEAN 

Albania, Algeria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, 
Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, 
Libya, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, 
Tunisia, Turkey, Gibraltar (to UK) 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

Mediterranean Sea 

The Mediterranean region is congruent with the Mediterranean Sea LME. This is a nearly enclosed 
basin with very narrow connections to three other water bodies: the Atlantic (through the Straits of 
Gibraltar), the Black Sea (through the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara), and the Red Sea (by the 
Suez Canal). The Mediterranean is about 2.6 million knr in extent. It is comprised of two main basins, 
the eastern larger than the western, separated by shallows around Sicily. The Mediterranean receives 
low freshwater input, mainly from northern shores, but a major inflow of well-oxygenated, nutrient- 
poor Atlantic surface water through the Straits of Gibraltar. Evaporation from the basin greatly exceeds 
freshwater input, so this exchange is critical for maintenance of oxygen, salinity and nutrient levels. 
There is a balancing outflow of deeper water, relatively rich in nutrients, westward into the Atlantic. 
The shelf zone is narrow generally, but with more extensive and relatively productive shallows in 
places (eg. the Gulf of Gabes, Tunisia). The basin is heavily impacted by pollutants from industrial, 
agricultural and sewage sources. There are local concentrations of small pelagic fishes around gyres 
and upwellings; most such stocks, except the anchovy, are only moderately exploited. Demersal fishery 
stocks and large pelagic species (eg. swordfish, tuna) are heavily exploited. 



BIODIVERSITY 

Mediterranean Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic T % 



endemic T % 



seagrasses 
coral genera 
molluscs 
shrimps 
lobsters 



1 


5 


10 


sharks 


- 





- 


seabirds 





138 


3 


cetaceans 





31 


2 


sirenians 





11 


7 


pinnipeds 



43 12 

1 22 8 
16 18 



1 3 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region: % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



39 



Mediterranean 

Mediterranean Regional Sea: regional endemic species 





scientific name 


common name 


status 


seagrasses 


*Posidonia oceanica 






seabirds 


Puffinus yelkouan 


Levant shearwater 





* near endemic 



Biodiversity Notes 

There is moderate seagrass diversity, with one almost endemic species. There are no hermatypic 
corals in the Mediterranean. Molluscs are moderately rich in species, as are larger crustaceans, 
especially shrimps and prawns. 

Recorded shark diversity is moderate; seabird diversity is relatively low, with only one species 
endemic to the region (and this, the Levant Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan, being only arguably a 
distinct species). 

Amongst sea turtles, the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas and Loggerhead Caretta caretta nest regularly, 
but only the latter in large numbers; the Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea has been known to nest 
occasionally. The Green Turtle nests only in the extreme Mediterranean, in southeast Turkey and in 
Cyprus. The Loggerhead is more widespread. 

Relatively few cetacean species have been recorded in the Mediterranean and no sirenians. The only 
pinniped is the critically endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus which also 
occurs along in the Atlantic (in the North Atlantic and West and Central African Regions). 



FISHERIES 

The Mediterranean comprises most of FAO Statistical Area 37, the remainder of this area being the 
Black Sea which is discussed above. Annual recorded landings in the Mediterranean have remained 
at around 1.2 million tonnes since the 1980s. However, a significant proportion of fishing in the 
Mediterranean is carried out by small vessels whose existence and catch are both seriously under- 
reported in FAO databases, so that actual landings in the Mediterranean are undoubtedly higher than 
this. Discards in the region are estimated at around 25% of actual catch, or close to the global average. 

Fisheries involve demersals, large pelagics and small pelagics (notably anchovy). With the exception 
of a few wide-shelf areas (Gulf of Gabes, Catalonia Shelf, Gulf of Lions and Adriatic Sea), shelf and 
slope habitats of exploitable demersal populations within the Mediterranean are narrow and generally 
close to shore, although there are some valuable deeper water demersal resources (royal red shrimp, 
large hake, red coral). Much of the narrow shelf has an untrawlable bottom and is fished by small- 
vessels with a wide variety of fishing gear. 

The Mediterranean has a long history of very high local fishing pressure leading to stock depletions, 
and research in support of fisheries management is only a relatively recent phenomenon. 



40 



Mediterranean 

Mediterranean demersal resources and anchovy are subject to very high fishing pressure along most 
continental shelves and their stocks are highly dependent on favourable recruitment. If recruitment 
levels drop owing to unfavourable environmental conditions, and fishing pressure remains high, stocks 
are likely to collapse. Few countries have yet taken action to control fishing effort, so that the these 
stocks remain permanently at risk from overfishing. 

Similarly, pressure has increased greatly over the past twenty years on the large pelagics, notably 
bluefin tuna, swordfish, bonito and dolphin fish. Many swordfish and tuna fisheries in the 
Mediterranean now appear to be operating on very young, small fish, indicating overfishing. In some 
areas, however, recruitment rates appear to have increased, possibly as a result of increases in the 
small pelagic species which are the principal prey of the large pelagics. 

Small pelagic species, with the exception of anchovy, do not appear to be very heavily fished. As 
elsewhere, populations show wide fluctuations which generally do not seem to relate directly to fishing 
pressure. Many stocks appear to have been increasing in abundance over the past 25 years. More 
generally, overall fishing yields in the Mediterranean have remained steady or risen over this time 
period, despite steadily increasing fishing effort, which would have been expected to have led to 
depletions. It is thought likely that this is the result of increased productivity through increased nutrient 
runoff from rivers and coastal areas, as a result of human activities. These effects are particularly 
marked in the Adriatic (from the Po River and others), the Aegean (which receives enriched water 
from the Black Sea) and the Gulf of Lions (from the Rhone River) all of which have shown increased 
landings. These productive areas correlate well with areas of high phytoplankton concentration as 
revealed by remote sensing imagery. 

Although this anthropogenic eutrophication has arguably been beneficial to fisheries yields to date, its 
long term effect is likely to be less positive, as evinced by the virtual collapse of the Black Sea 
ecosystem. Predicted outcomes include increase in anoxia and hypoxia to bottom waters leading to 
decreases of valuable demersal stocks, increases in harmful algal blooms (already observed in the 
Adriatic) and possible large scale changes to trophic structure, particularly if fishing of larger predatory 
species is not controlled, so that small pelagics become the major components of fish biomass. 



41 



NORTH ATLANTIC 

Belgium; Bermuda; Canada; Denmark; Estonia; Faroes; 
Finland; France; Germany; Greenland; Iceland; Ireland; 
Latvia; Lithuania; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; 
Poland; Portugal; Russia; Spain; Sweden; USA; United 
Kingdom 

This marine region is not within an existing Regional 
Seas area and has been defined here for the purposes of 
this document. 




LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

There are fourteen LMEs wholly contained within the North Atlantic Region: the Southeast US 
Continental Shell, the Northeast US Continental Shelf, the Scotian Shelf, the Newfoundland Shelf, the 
West Greenland Shelf, the East Greenland Shelf, the Iceland shelf, the Norwegian Shelf, the North 
Sea, the Baltic Sea. ihe Celtic-Biscay Shelf, the Iberian Coastal, the Canary Current, and the Faroe 
Plateau. 

Southeast IS Continental Shelf 

This LME extend-, from the Straits of Florida to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The South Atlantic 
Bight (the are.i between Cape Hatteras and Cape Canaveral in Florida) has a shelf width of 50-200 km 
and an area ol u n.<>(Mi knr. The dominant features oceanographically are the Florida Current and the 
Gulf Stream The cu.i-.tal zone is characterized by high levels of plankton production throughout the 
year, whereas on tin. middle and outer continental shelf, upwellings along the Gulf Stream front and 
intrusions I mm n result in short lived plankton blooms. 

Northeast IS Continental Shelf 

The Northeast Shell ecosystem runs from Cape Hatteras in the south to the Gulf of Maine in the north. 
In the southern section of this area the continental shelf is relatively broad and gently slopes eastward 
to the outer edge Tidal amplitude is less than one metre. The northern section is relatively shallow, 
generally less than 2(K) m and has the largest tidal amplitude in the world, at the Bay of Fundy, with 
a range of 1 2 m 1 he w arm Gulf Stream is the major influence in south of this area, with the Labrador 
Current plaxing an important role, whilst in the northern area the Labrador Current has the greatest 
influence, particularly at depth. A transition zone occurs where these currents meet with a cold water 
barrier at Cape ( '»k1 and a warm water barrier at Cape Hatteras. These boundaries shift northward and 
southward during' summer and winter respectively. 

Scotian Shelf I. ME 

This is the area surrounding Nova Scotia. The continental shelf extends in places 370 km from the 
Canadian coast The shelf is dominated by a series of shallow banks ranging in depth from 25-100 m 
which are divided by a deep glacial trough, the Laurentian Channel, to form the Grand Banks and the 
Scotian Shell. The area is dominated by the cold Labrador current, with the Gulf Stream having an 
impact along the continental margin. Mean tidal amplitude ranges between 1-2 m. Intense storms are 
quite frequent, particularly in the winter months, resulting in a very exposed storm-wave environment. 



43 



North Atlantic 

Newfoundland Shelf 

The Newfoundland Shelf LME extends off the eastern coast of Canada, including the areas of the 
Labrador Current and the Grand Banks. The continental shelf is relatively uniform, averaging 50-150 
km in width, with depths of less than 70 m as far as 2 km from shore, although the steep continental 
slope rapidly reaches depths of over 3,000 m. During the winter, the fjords, bays and narrow coastal 
zone are bound in landfast ice, while close pack ice extends 150-225 km offshore. Icebergs are 
abundant year round and there is a significant Arctic water component within the main water mass. 
In this area the cold water Labrador Current and the large freshwater outflow of the St Lawrence River 
are the major factors influencing the composition of the water column. 

West Greenland Shelf 

Like other high latitude LMEs, ocean climate variability in the West Greenland Sea is a particularly 
important driving force. This area is usually partially ice covered during the northern winter. 

East Greenland Shelf 

This area is characterized by its glaciated margin and bottom topography. The irregular shelf varies 
greatly in width, from a maximum of about 750 km in the north to about 75 km in the south. The 
main hydrographic influence is the cold East Greenland Current. Ice cover is extensive during the 
winter and 90% of all icebergs in the northern hemisphere are derived from the glaciers on the east 
coast of Greenland. 

Iceland Shelf 

Unusually, this area has a wide volcanic margin marked by broad valleys. The continental slope is 
sharply defined, with wider rises to the south. The hydrography of the area is complex. Warm saline 
Atlantic water flows northward in east, and cold fresh Arctic water flows southward in the west; there 
is also a clockwise circulation gyre around the island. The entire area is covered with ice during the 
northern winter. 

Norwegian Shelf 

The margin off the Norwegian coast is separated from the rest of European margin by a trough, the 
Norwegian Deep, which originates in the Skagerrak and sweeps northward parallel to the Norwegian 
shore. The continental shelf averages 167 km in width although there are much narrower sections near 
69°N. Cold low salinity waters found along the Norwegian coast are formed from waters derived from 
the Baltic Sea. High levels of phytoplankton and zooplankton are found along the coast. 

North Sea 

The North Sea is found on the continental shelf of West Europe, bounded by the coastlines of 
Scotland, England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. It 
has openings into the Atlantic Ocean to the north and in the southwest, via the English Channel. It 
opens into the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak to the east. The North Sea occupies an area of 
approximately 750,000 km 2 and it has a volume of about 94,000 km 3 . The current movement of 
surface waters is in a counter clockwise direction, with the flow of water down the east coast of 
Scotland and England, along the coasts of mainland Europe and up the western seaboard of Sweden 
and Norway. There is also a movement of Atlantic water at depth toward the coast of Norway. 

44 



North Atlantic 
Baltic 

The Baltic Sea covers around 413,000 km 2 . It is very shallow, with an average depth of around 57 
metres, but locally reaches 460 metres. It communicates with the North Sea through the Great and 
Little Danish Belts and the Oresund, which together form the so-called Belt Sea. This and the Kattegat 
form a transition zone between the North Sea and the Baltic proper. Almost all water input to the 
Baltic comes from rivers, which contribute an estimated 430-470 km 3 of freshwater annually. The 
three largest rivers are the Neva, Wisla and Oder; these together contribute only just over one fifth of 
the overall freshwater input. Inflow of water varies seasonally and also over longer time periods; over 
the past 12,000 years the Baltic has alternated several times from being a large freshwater lake to 
being a truly marine sea. 

Celtic-Biscay Shelf 

The Celtic-Biscay Shelf is found off the coasts of Ireland and the west coasts of France and Great 
Britain. At its southern limits, off the French-Spanish border, it is steep and narrow, but it widens 
steadily along the west coast of France, merging with the broad continental shelf surrounding Ireland 
and Great Britain. The main oceanic influence is the North Atlantic Drift, a warm water current 
derived from the Gulf Stream. 

Iberian Coastal 

This area is defined as the continental shelf region of the eastern Atlantic Ocean lying between about 
36°N (Gulf of Cadiz) and 44°N (Cantabrian Sea). The continental shelf varies in width from 15 to 
nearly 400 km. Much of this area experiences moderate upwelling and is an area of higher than 
average productivity. 

Canary Current 

The Canary Current flows southwest along the coast of northwest Africa transporting cool water 
towards the equator. Major upwellings that occur are determined by the orientation of the coastline, 
structure of the bottom, and interaction between water masses. The Canary Islands provide enricnment 
of the oceanic zone through increased current intensity. This a highly productive area. 

Faroe Plateau 

This LME is based on the relatively broad continental shelf surrounding the Faroe Islands. The islands 
and their shelf are affected by a branch of the north-flowing North Atlantic Drift. 



45 



North Atlantic 

BIODIVERSITY 

North Atlantic Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



T % 



endemic T % 



seagrasses 
coral genera 
molluscs 
shrimps 
lobsters 






5 


10 


sharks 





13 


12 


seabirds 





432 


10 


cetaceans 





55 


16 


sirenians 


1 


22 


15 


pinnipeds 



4 87 25 

4 56 19 

2 39 44 

1 25 

1 8 24 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region: T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



North Atlantic Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



lobsters 



Homarus americanus 



American lobster 



sharks 



Apristurus atlanticus 
Apristurus maderensis 
Apristurus manis 
Galeus murinus 



Atlantic ghost catshark 

Madeira catshark 

Ghost catshark 

Mouse catshark 



seabirds 



Catharacta skua 
Lams fuscus 
Pterodroma cahow 
Pterodroma madeira 



Great skua 

Lesser black-backed gull 

Bermuda petrel 

Madeira petrel 



EN 
CR 



cetaceans 



Lagenorhynchus acutus 
Mesoplodon bidens 



Atlantic white-sided dolphin 
Sowerby's beaked whale 



pinnipeds 



*Halichoerus grypus 



Grey seal 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar et al. (1994); all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). * Baltic 
subspecies EN. 



46 



North Atlantic 
Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass diversity is low. Generic diversity of hermatypic corals is low, with no endemic genera. 
There is relatively high diversity of molluscs, and also of shrimps and lobsters, but only a single 
regional endemic in the species groups reviewed. 

Recorded shark diversity is high, although this may be a reflection of how relatively well studied the 
fish fauna of this region is. Two marine turtles, the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas and Loggerhead 
Caretta caretta, are known to nest in the extreme south of the region, only the latter in significant 
numbers. The North Atlantic gyre and coastal waters, especially along the eastern seaboard of North 
America, provide important feeding grounds and migratory pathways for turtles, including Kemp's 
Ridley Lepidochelys kempii. Seabird diversity is also high, although lower than in equivalent areas 
of the Pacific. Two species of Pterodroma petrel are highly threatened and at least one endemic 
seabird species has become extinct (the Great Auk Aka impennis, from the Northern Atlantic, last 
recorded in 1844. 

Cetacean diversity is high, with two species apparently confined to the region, although both are 
pelagic and may be expected to extend further south on occasion. One Sirenian, the West Indian 
Manatee Trichechus manatus occurs in the southeast of the region along the US coast. Pinniped 
diversity is relatively high, although there are no endemics, most species being shared with the Arctic 
Region or, in the case of the Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus (Critically Endangered) 
with the Mediterranean and West and Central African Regions. 

FISHERIES 

The North Atlantic region as defined here includes parts of FAO statistical areas 21 (Northwest 
Atlantic), 27 (Northeast Atlantic) and small portions of 31 (Western central Atlantic) and 34 (Eastern 
central Atlantic). The northwest and northeast sectors of this region are experiencing some of the best- 
documented, most severe and socially most damaging catch declines known. This widespread decline 
has affected most high-value demersal stocks and some of the shoaling pelagics, and is attributed 
primarily to excess fishing pressure, in some instances complicated by changing environmental 
conditions, eg. lower than average water temperature in the northwest Atlantic. The Haddock 
Melanogrammus aeglefinus and Cod Gadus morhua populations in the northwest and northeast 
Atlantic have been categorised as Vulnerable in the 7996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals 
(IUCN, 1996) (with the proviso that application of the new status category system to marine fishes 
requires further evaluation). 

Northwest Atlantic 

Recorded landings for 1992 total 2.6 million tonnes, representing a 20% reduction since 1990 and 
below the annual average over the previous two decades. Catches of all main groundfish (demersal, 
or bottom-living species) have declined, especially Cod, Haddock and flatfishes. Half of the decline 
is attributed to reduced North Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) stocks Stocks of demersal fishes in the 
northeast USA were at an all-time low in 1992 and expected to decline further in 1993. Catches have 
fallen despite great increases in efficiency and fishing effort. Cod stocks are estimated to be at around 
5% of the long-term average abundance. Both excess fishing and a period of low temperature in 
northern coastal waters appear to have caused the decline, eg. there are indications that decline in 
American Plaice is mainly due to a reduction in ambient water temperature. Following the collapse 
in gadoid stocks, demersal fisheries have moved to formerly low value species. 

47 



North Atlantic 

Many vessels in the northern part of this region have now begun to target Greenland Halibut. This 
stock has a restricted Total Allowable Catch (TAC) within Canadian waters, and appeared relatively 
secure at the end of the 1980s, however, landings outside the EEZ had increased nearly tenfold by 
1993. The stock is now greatly depleted. Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) stocks throughout the 
northwest Atlantic are over-exploited; juveniles are subject to high incidental catch in other fisheries. 
In the eastern area no direct fishery is permitted. Herring stocks on Georges Bank were subject to 
major international fishery in the 1960s and 1970s, producing an annual yield of 374,000 tonnes in 
1968, but collapsed to apparent commercial extinction. Spawning stocks have now been identified and 
some recovery may be underway. 

About one-third of total fishery landings for 1990 were molluscs and crustaceans. Landings of 
crustaceans (including crabs, American Lobster and Northern Prawn) have risen steadily since the 
1970s to 276,000 tonnes during 1990. This is partly due to increases in aquaculture production but 
may have been promoted by warmer summer water temperatures. 

Straddling stocks present in regions under the jurisdiction of Canada, Greenland and France (St. Pierre 
et Miquelin), and in adjacent international waters in the northwest Atlantic, are covered by catch 
quotas suggested by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO). All coastal states in the 
region, except USA, are members. NAFO has attempted to maintain stock levels within a 200 mile 
radius of the coastal shelf (except round the USA coast) by harvesting depleted fish stocks below the 
maximum sustainable yield thus allowing a recovery in annual recruitment. Fishing by non-Contracting 
Parties, and particularly by flag-of-convenience vessels, in the NAFO Regulatory Area is a continuing 
problem. 

Within Canadian waters in the northwest Atlantic, assessments are conducted by the Canadian Atlantic 
Fisheries Scientific Advisory Committee (CAFSAC) who have also established catch quotas on fish 
stocks, and include a three year management plan for ground fish. 

In attempting to avoid discards of by-catches, an aggregate quota for Cod, Haddock and Pollock was 
introduced in 1989. A Haddock nursery area was introduced in 1987 to aid stock rebuilding which has 
produced a slight recovery. Canada has declared a moratorium on several demersal stocks within its 
EEZ and the NAFO area beyond 200-mile limits. At the same time an extensive Northern Cod 
Adjustment and Recovery programme focusing on mitigation of social impact among local 
communities has been introduced. There is also a new and independent Fisheries Resource 
Conservation Council; this has recommended some very stringent closure and reduction actions. In 
New England, the Multispecies Fishery Management Plan calls for a reduction in fishery effort, 
increases in mesh size, and more restrictions on Haddock spawning ground. 

Northeast Atlantic 

Total recorded landings for the Northeast Atlantic were 2.6 million tonnes in 1992, down slightly from 
the previous year's catch of 3.0 million tonnes. One million tonnes consisted of invertebrates: catches 
of molluscs (oysters, Blue Mussel, scallops, Common Cockle, cephalopods) and crustaceans (crabs, 
lobsters, prawns, shrimps) both increased since the previous year. 

Most demersal finfish stocks remain depleted; some show a continuing downward trend. Stocks of 
Atlantic Cod, Polar Cod, Haddock, Norway Pout, Capelin, Atlantic Herring, Anchovy and Sprat have 
fallen 2.9 million tonnes between 1970 and 1990 with current stocks still further depleted. The 
reduction in fish stock is due to increasing pressures from overfishing, large discards (33-50% of total 



48 



North Atlantic 

catch), poor recruitment and overfishing of juvenile stocks. Environmental factors are also accountable 
for stock reduction. 

In the North Sea, the Cod spawning stock is severely depressed; the present level, estimated at about 
50,000 metric tonnes, is one-third the minimum desirable level. All but one year-class since the good 
1985 year have been below average size. The stock may be beyond recovery unless fishing mortality 
is reduced, and this appears unlikely. The condition of the Cod stocks in the Baltic, Iceland and 
Greenland Seas is broadly similar, although in the Baltic, a reasonable 1991 year class was produced, 
and an influx of North Sea water in 1993 may improve water quality. There is some evidence of 
recovery in the Northeast Arctic stock, in part due to a low TAC. 

Recruitment from average or above-average year classes has produced slight improvement in the North 
Sea spawning stock of Haddock since the record low in 1985. The Faeroe stock remains extremely 
low. North Sea Herring, North Sea Mackerel, Whiting and Plaice are all at low levels; Sole are 
presently well above the minimum desirable level, but still subject to heavy fishing. High mortality 
was caused to adult Herring in the North Sea and western Baltic by the fungus Ichthyophonus in 1991. 
The Norwegian spring spawning Herring stock has continued to recover and there are hopes that it 
might reach former levels. Harvesting started in 1993 with a low TAC designed to allow continued 
recovery. There has been recent interest in harvest of deep water species on the Atlantic slope, 
however, caution is needed because of the slow growth and long lifespan typical of such species. 

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) is concerned with management and 
research activities in the region. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) system has been used as the 
standard method in managing fish stocks throughout this area but ICES is now promoting Multi- 
species Virtual Population Analysis (MSVPA), which takes into account the fact that consumption of 
fish by other fish is a major cause of mortality for many species. Discards of undersize fish appear 
to be an increasing problem; ICES is attempting to quantify more accurately the discard level. ICES 
has also participated in the assessments made by the North Sea Task Force. 



49 




CARIBBEAN 

Anguilla (to UK), Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba (to 

Netherlands), Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British 

Virgin Islands (to UK), Cayman Islands (to UK), 

Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican 

Republic, French Guiana (to France), Grenada, 

Guadeloupe (to France), Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, 

Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique (to France), Mexico, 

Montserrat (to UK), Netherlands Antilles (to 

Netherlands), Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent 

and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos (to UK), USA, US 

Virgin Islands (to USA), Venezuela 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

The Caribbean Region comprises the whole of two LMEs: the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, 
and the northern part of the Northeast Brazil Shelf LME. 

Gulf of Mexico 

The Gulf of Mexico is a large, semi-enclosed water body with an area of c 1.6 million km 2 . The Gulf 
receives freshwater input from rivers which drain two-thirds of the USA and half of Mexico, with a 
combined inflow of c 30,000 rtrVsec or around 2,600 km 3 per year, most notably from the Mississippi- 
Missouri. Surface temperatures in the southern part of the Gulf are relatively constant, at around 27°C, 
with seasonal fluctuations of around 3°C. In the northern part there is much more seasonal variation, 
from 16°C in winter to 28°C in summer. 

The Gulf's main oceanographic feature is a loop current which exchanges water with the Atlantic 
Ocean and Caribbean Sea. This current flows north into the Gulf around the western end of Cuba then 
loops round to flow south and eastward through the Florida Straits between southern Florida and the 
northern coast of Cuba. 

Caribbean Sea 

The Caribbean Sea covers an area of some 2.5 million km 2 . It has an average depth of some 2,000 m. 
Most of the region is tropical, so that surface temperatures are constant at around 27°C, with seasonal 
fluctuations of around 3°C. Salinity is relatively high from January to May, but lower at other times 
owing to inflow of low salinity water from the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers and from the equatorial 
convergence. 

The predominant currents are influenced by the trade winds and are westward flowing; they are the 
Guiana Current which flows around the coast of northern South America from Brazil and the Northern 
Equatorial Current which flows west through the Lesser Antilles. There are coastal countercurrents and 
several gyres. 

Most of the region has narrow shelf areas, with the seafloor dropping precipitously a few kilometres 
from shore. There are, however, extensive shallow water areas off the coasts of Belize, Cuba and the 
Bahamas. 



51 



Caribbean 

Northeast Brazilian Shelf 

The Northeast Brazilian Shelf runs from the boundary of the Caribbean Sea off Venezuela south to 
the easternmost coastal point of Brazil. The southern half of this LME has been included here in the 
Southwest Atlantic region. The shelf is 40-170 nm wide and has a gently sloping surface with some 
slight terracing. Major influences on this LME are the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers, the former lying 
within the Caribbean Region. As well as providing major sources of freshwater and nutrients, both 
have built submarine deltas onto the shelf. 



BIODIVERSITY 

Caribbean Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



% 



endemic 



seagrasses 


2 


7 


15 


sharks 


coral genera 


9 


25 


23 


seabirds 


molluscs 





633 


15 


cetaceans 


shrimps 





45 


13 


sirenians 


lobsters 


8 


23 


15 


pinnipeds 



14 


76 


22 


1 


23 


8 





30 


34 





1 


25 


_ 





_ 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



Caribbean Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



seagrass 



Halophila engelmannii 
Halophila johnsonii 



lobsters 



Acanthacaris caeca 
Eunephrops manningi 
Eunephrops bairdii 
Eunephrops cadenasi 
Metanephrops binghami 
Nephropides caribaeus 
Nephropsis neglecta 
Thaumastocheles zaleucus 



Atlantic deep-sea lobster 

Banded lobster 

Red lobster 

Sculptured lobster 

Caribbean lobster 

Mitten lobsterette 

Ruby lobsterette 

Atlantic pincer lobster 



52 



Caribbean 



scientific name 



common name status 



sharks 



Apristurus riveri 
Apristurus canutus 
Apristurus parvipinnis 
Eridacnis barbouri 
Etmopterus schultzi 
Etmopterus virens 
Oxynotus caribbaeus 
Parmaturus campechiensis 
Pristiophorus schroederi 
Schroederichthys maculatus 
Scyliorhinus meadi 
Scyliorhinus boa 
Scyliorhinus torrei 
Scyliorhinus hesperius 



Broadgill catshark 

Hoary catshark 

Smallfin catshark 

Cuban ribbontail catshark 

Fringefin lanternshark 

Green lanternshark 

Caribbean roughshark 

Campeche catshark 

Bahamas sawshark 

Narrowtail catshark 

Blotched catshark 

Boa catshark 

Dwarf catshark 

Whitesaddled catshark 



seabirds 



Pterodroma hasitata 



Black-capped petrel 



EN 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar et al. (1994); all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). 



Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass diversity is fairly low, in particular when compared with the tropical Indo-Pacific, although 
two species are endemic to the region.The Caribbean Region overall has considerably lower generic 
diversity of hermatypic corals than most of the tropical Indo-Pacific; it does, however, have the 
highest number of regionally endemic genera in the world, as might be expected in view of its 
geographical isolation from other major coral areas. The region is particularly rich in molluscs, after 
the East Asia Seas region and the South Pacific (the apparent absence of endemics is surprising and 
may be an artefact of data quality), and in larger crustaceans, with the second highest number of 
endemic lobsters. 

Shark diversity is moderate although there are a significant number of apparently endemic species. 

All species of marine turtle except the Flatback Natator depressus breed in the region. The critically 
Endangered Kemp's Ridley Lepidochelys kempii, is confined to the region as a nesting species. 
Virtually all nesting is at Rancho Nuevo in Tamaulipas State, Mexico, although sporadic nesting has 
been recorded elsewhere in Mexico, Colombia and the USA. Attempts are being made to establish a 
nesting colony at Padre Island, USA. At sea the species is widely recorded in the Atlantic and very 
rarely in the Mediterranean. There are also major nesting populations of Green Turtle Chelonia 
mydas, Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata, Loggerhead Caretta caretta and Leatherback Dermochelys 
coraicea. The Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea is less common; the only significant nesting in the 
western Atlantic takes place in Suriname, with diffuse nesting in French Guiana and Guyana. 

As with many tropical regions, seabird diversity is low, with the region only holding some 8% of the 
world's total. One species is endemic, the endangered Black-capped Petrel Pterodroma hasitata which 



53 



Caribbean 

breeds on Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba and probably Dominica (Collar et ai, 1994). One other 
species, the Jamaican Petrel Pterodroma caribbaea, formerly endemic to Jamaica, is now believed 
extinct. 

Cetacean diversity is near the global average; there are no regional endemics, although the Tucuxi 
Solatia fluviatilis is confined to rivers and coastal waters in the southern part of the region and the 
adjacent Southwest Atlantic Region. There are no extant pinnipeds in the region, the formerly endemic 
Caribbean Monk Seal Monachus tropicalis was last recorded in the early 1960s and is now regarded 
as extinct. Amongst sirenians, the West Indian Manatee Trichechus manatus, a Vulnerable species, 
is very nearly endemic to the region, although its range extends into the northern part of the Southwest 
Atlantic Region. 



FISHERIES 

The Caribbean Region is contained entirely within FAO fisheries area 31, the Western Central Atlantic. 
Although the northern part of this fisheries area is more strictly considered part of the North Atlantic 
it will be considered here in this report. 

At the macro-scale, fisheries in this area appear to be principally affected by fishing pressure and by 
variations in run-off from the rivers feeding the region, principally the Mississippi, Orinoco and 
Amazon, three of the largest river systems in the world. These undoubtedly have an influence across 
most of the region. Variations in runoff have been linked to El Nino events in the equatorial Pacific. 
At local scales, coastal habitat degradation, usually for coastal development and tourism, are implicated 
in decreases in reef fishery production. Hurricanes, to which the region is particularly prone, can also 
have a serious local impact on fisheries, although this appears to be more through effects on fishing 
vessels and facilities than on the marine environment. 

Main fisheries within the area are for small and large pelagic finfish, reef-fishes, coastal demersal 
finfish, crustaceans and molluscs. Overall landings in the region rose steadily from around 1 .5 million 
tonnes in 1970 to a peak of 2.6 million tonnes in 1984 and has since declined steadily to around 1.7 
million tonnes in the early 1990s. The region accounts for only around 2% of total marine fisheries 
landing. However, FAO estimate that it has the highest percentage discard of any of the major fishing 
areas, with nearly half the actual catch believed to be discarded (mostly as a by-catch of shrimp 
trawling, particularly in the northern Gulf of Mexico). 

Most of the recent decline in fisheries here is attributed to decreases in three major US-based fisheries: 
Gulf menhaden, American Oyster and Calico Scallop. Menhaden decline appears to be attributable 
mainly to overharvest, oyster decline to disease and scallop decline perhaps to natural fluctuations in 
abundance, which appear to occur at intervals of several years. 

According to FAO's 1994 assessment, just over 35% of stocks in the region were regarded as 
overexploited (fully fished, overfished, depleted or recovering). This apparently places the region in 
a better overall position than almost all other FAO fisheries areas, but this may be misleading as 
mollusc stocks were not assessed. Just under 60% of demersal stocks were overexploited and just 
under 70% of pelagic stocks. Crustacean stocks were not generally considered overexploited. 



54 



Caribbean 

The Caribbean region includes a large number of countries, of very widely varying social and 
economic status. This is reflected in the wide range of fisheries activities (industrial, artisanal and 
recreational) and approaches to management in the region, varying from highly managed (eg. US, 
Cuba) to unmanaged (eg. Haiti). 

Generally, overcxploitation of inshore (particularly reef) fishery resources and deterioration of inshore 
habitats, both around the islands and on continental shelves, has led countries to direct exploitation 
increasingly to offshore pelagic resources. These stocks have two major characteristics: they tend to 
be highly migratory, both within and beyond the region, and are thus shared by several countries, 
many of which will only have access on a seasonal basis; in addition, population levels of many of 
them appear to be naturally highly variable, dependant on medium or longer term environmental 
variation. The need for international cooperation in management of these resources is paramount. 

Locally, there is a pressing need for rehabilitation of reef resources, both through improved fisheries 
management and habitat restoration, through Integrated Coastal Zone Management. Isolated island 
states are in a position to contemplate independent management of these stocks; however, many of the 
island states are small and under-resourced, both financially and in terms of scientific and technical 
expertise and would benefit greatly from international cooperation. 

Of growing importance is the need to reconcile the interests of different fisheries sectors or user 
groups within mdmduul countries. Recreational fisheries are increasing and may be a major 
contributor m the catch, although one which is notoriously difficult to assess. In the Caribbean sector 
of the US, these 1 1 shenes may account for half of the coastal demersal catch, and a notable proportion 
of the coastal pelaeu catch. There has been considerable conflict between recreational and commercial 
fishers here. In addition there is potential conflict between mostly artisanal reef fisheries and the newly 
developed pelaeu Meets, which may turn their attention to inshore demersal and reef fisheries during 
the off-season lor pdugies. 



55 



SOUTHWEST ATLANTIC 



Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

Two LMEs are wholly contained within the region: the 
Patagonian Shelf and the Brazil Current; the southern part 
of the Northeast Brazil Shelf is also included here (the 
northern part is included in the Caribbean). 




Brazil Current 

The Brazil Current LME runs from the Recife area in Brazil southwards to the mouth of the Rio de 
la Plata, thereby taking in the southern half of the Brazilian coastline and the Atlantic coast of 
Uruguay. The northern part of this LME has a very narrow steeply sloping shelf, from 15-75 km wide; 
in the southern part this becomes wider and gentler, reaching out to 150 km or so. The dominant 
oceanographic feature is the southward flowing Brazil Current, which starts at around 10°S and is 
strongest from the Abrolhos Archipelago south to the Tropic of Capricorn, after which it becomes 
progressively weaker. The northern part of this current is relatively oligotrophic but to the south it 
becomes increasingly productive. 

Patagonian Shelf 

The Patagonian Shelf LME extends along the southern Atlantic coast of South America from the Rio 
de la Plata south to southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. The continental shelf here is one of the 
widest in the world, encompassing the Falklands/Malvinas Islands some 760 km east of the mainland. 
Oceanographically, the area is dominated by the cold Falklands/Malvinas Current which flows 
northward along the coast from the extreme south. It is generally slow flowing, but fastest (around 2 
km/hour) at the outer edge of the continental shelf. Prevailing westerly winds produce upwellings of 
cold Antarctic waters here, which lower the surface temperature. The northern limit of the current 
varies: it usually extends as far north as Buenos Aires in Argentina, but sometimes exerts its influence 
as far north as Rio de Janeiro. In the Rio de la Plata region there is extensive mixing of this current 
with the southward flowing warm Brazil Current resulting in a highly productive confluence zone. 
Hydrographically this region is very complex, having additional influence from upwellings and low 
salinity coastal waters (principally outflow of the Rio de la Plata). The region of mixed waters 
typically extends between 25°S and 45°S. 

Northeast Brazil Shelf 

This LME is described briefly under the Caribbean Region. Of major note is the outflow of the 
Amazon, the most voluminous source of freshwater outflow in the world. 



57 



Southwest Atlantic 

BIODIVERSITY 

Southwest Atlantic Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



% 



endemic 



seagrasses 
coral genera 
molluscs 
shrimps 
lobsters 






1 


2 


1 


10 


9 





299 


7 





32 


9 


2 


14 


9 



sharks 

seabirds 

cetaceans 

sirenians 

pinnipeds 



ic 


T 


% 


6 


68 


19 


1 


33 


11 


2 


43 


49 





1 


25 





5 


15 



Notes: the data refer m species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism \ d.ish (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further inlnrm.ition on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



Southwest Atlantic Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



lobsters 



Metanephrops rubellus 
Scyllarides deceptor 



Urugavian lobster 
Hooded slipper lobster 



sharks 



Centroscyllium granulatum 
Mustelus schmitti 
Mustelus fasciatus 
Schroederichthys tenuis 
Scyliorhinus besnardi 
Squatina argentina 



Granular dogfish 

Narrownose smooth-hound 

Striped smooth-hound 

Slender catshark 

Polkadot catshark 

Argentine angelshark 



seabirds 



Larus atlanticus 



Olrog's gull VU 



cetaceans 



Cephalorhynchus commersonii 
Pontoporia blainvillei 



Commerson's dolphin 
La Plata river dolphin 



Notes: letters in i(k st.iius" column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened In ilu rc\ iscd IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following true L.nciMnes: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed bv Hirdl ite International, Collar et al. (1994); all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). 



Biodiversity Notes 

Recorded seagrass diversity is very low, with only one species known from the area, although is likely 
to be an underestimate. Generic diversity of hermatypic corals is low, as elsewhere in the Atlantic 
outside the Caribbean; there is one apparently endemic genus. The region is moderately rich in 
molluscs, shrimps and lobsters. 



58 



Southwest Atlantic 

Shark diversity is reasonably high; recorded seabird diversity is relatively low, with only one endemic 
species. Five sea turtle species are recorded as nesting in the region (the Green Turtle Chelonia 
mydas, Loggerhead Caretta caretta, Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata, Olive Ridley Lepidochelys 
olivacea and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea). However, none of the nesting populations is known 
to be of major global importance. 

A moderate number of cetacean species is recorded from the region, although two species are 
apparently endemic or largely endemic. The pinniped fauna is relatively diverse and one species of 
sirenian, the West Indian Manatee Trichechus manatus occurs in the northern part of the region (the 
Amazonian Manatee Trichechus inunguis occurs in the Amazon delta region but is strictly a freshwater 
species). 



FISHERIES 

The region lies within FAO fisheries region 41, Southwest Atlantic. 

Total reported fisheries in this area increased from around one million tonnes in the mid-1970s to 2.4 
million tonnes in 1987, declining to 2.0 million tonnes in 1990 and then increasing slightly to reach 
2.2 million tonnes by 1992. This represents around two percent of the global total. The most important 
fisheries are of demersal species, particularly squid (chiefly short-fin squid Illex sp. and common squid 
Loligo sp.), whose catch reached around 700,000 tonnes in 1 992, and Common or Argentinean Hake 
Merluccius hubbsi whose 1992 catch was 455,000 tonnes, down from 521,000 tonnes in 1991. Squid 
and hake together account for over half of the total catch. Other important catches are of Sardinella 
Sardinella brasiliensis, Anchoita Engraulis anchoita, and Blue Whiting Micromesistius australis. 

Over 80% of stocks in this region are considered fully fished, overfished, depleted or recovering. The 
stock of Anchoita off southern Brazil, Uruguay and northern Argentina is believed to have a potential 
of a few hundreds of thousands of tonnes per year but is little harvested at present. Stocks of most 
species, particularly squids, are reported to vary widely from year to year owing to natural causes. 
Excessive fishing may hinder recovery from natural decreases, as is likely to be the case with the 
Sardinella, where catches dropped from over 100,000 tonnes per year in the 1970s to 32,000 tonnes 
in 1990 (and has subsequently increased somewhat). Overall discard rate is estimated at around 27%, 
near the global average. 

Various management measures have been in force in the region for some years, including restricted 
licensing of national vessels and mesh-size regulations, specifically to control hake fishing. Control 
measures have also been brought in for the large squid stocks. 

The large-scale annual variability of many of the stocks in the region means that close monitoring is 
required to ensure that they are not overexploited. A major concern has been the rapid build-up in the 
region of offshore fishing by distant-water fleets. This has become better controlled since the adoption 
of 200 nm limits, and since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Argentina and the 
United Kingdom, allowing the development of cooperative monitoring. Further north, Argentina and 
Uruguay cooperate in research and management of fisheries, particularly in the Argentinean/Uruguayan 
Common Fishing Zone. 



59 




WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA 

Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cape-Verde, Congo, Cote 
d'lvoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, 
Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, 
Nigeria, Sao Tome e Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, 
Togo, Zaire 

St Helena and dependencies (to UK) are included in the 
biodiversity section below. 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 



The West African coast from Mauritania south to 

Namibia includes the southern part of the Canary Current LME, the whole of the Guinea Current LME 
and most of the Benguela Current LME. The Canary Current LME is described under the North 
Atlantic Region. 

Guinea Current LME 

The Guinea Current LME extends from the Bissagos Islands off Guinea in the north, through the Gulf 
of Guinea and Bight of Biafra, to Cape Lopez in Gabon. It is characterised principally by the wind- 
driven warm water Guinea Current flowing southward along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea almost 
to the equator (essentially a continuation of the Equatorial Counter-Current). 

A major influence on the region is the input of freshwater from the numerous rivers in this high- 
rainfall region, most notably the Niger and Zaire (the former being the second largest delta in the 
world). This results in large masses of warm (above 24°C) and low salinity (less than 35 ppt) water 
circulating in the Gulf of Guinea above colder water masses. These waters are permanent off Sierra 
Leone and Liberia and in the Gulf of Biafra (off Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon) but seasonal along 
the central part of the north coast of the Gulf of Guinea (from Cote d'lvoire to Benin). Here there are 
strong seasonal upwellings during the summer months. North of Sierra Leone, upwellings occur from 
October to April. 

Benguela Current LME 

The Benguela Current is a major northward flowing cold-water current and upwelling system running 
along the coast of South Africa, Namibia and Angola, veering offshore at around 6°S. Unusually for 
an upwelling system, it is bounded both to north and south by warm-water currents (the Guinea 
Current and Agulhas Current respectively). Upwelling is intense and more or less permanent in the 
central part of the system but is seasonal to the north and south, being strong in the austral winter 
(August) and weaker in summer (November to February). This region receives very little input from 
rivers, particularly in its central part. Indeed the coastal region of Namibia is one of the most arid parts 
of the world. 



61 



West and Central Africa 

BIODIVERSITY 

West and Central Africa Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



% 



endemic 



seagrasses 





1 


2 


sharks 


coral genera 


1 


10 


9 


seabirds 


molluscs 


1 


238 


6 


cetaceans 


shrimps 





36 


10 


sirenians 


lobsters 


3 


11 


7 


pinnipeds 



1 


89 


25 


2 


51 


18 


1 


38 


43 


1 


1 


25 





5 


15 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



West and Central Africa Regional Sea: regional endemic species 





scientific name 


common name 


status 


molluscs 


Conus balteus 






lobsters 


Callianassa turnerana 
Palinurus charlestoni 
Scyllarides herklotsii 


Cameroon ghost shrimp 

Cape Verde spiny lobster 

Red slipper lobster 




sharks 


Scyliorhinus cervigoni 


West African catshark 




seabirds 


Fregata aquila 
Pterodroma incerta 


Ascension frigatebird 
Atlantic petrel 


CR 
VU 


cetaceans 


* Cephalorhynchus hea visidii 


Heaviside's dolphin 




sirenians 


Trichechus senegalensis 


African manatee 


VU 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar el al. (1994); all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). 
* Heaviside's Dolphin also occurs off South Africa, but is apparently endemic to the Benguela Current and is therefore 
included here. 



Biodiversity Notes 

Recorded seagrass diversity is extremely low, although this may reflect lack of information. As with 
most of the Atlantic, hermatypic coral diversity is very low at the generic level, although there is 
some endemism. richness of molluscs, shrimps and lobsters is only moderate. 



62 



West and Central Africa 

Shark diversity is high. Five sea turtle species nest in the region (the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas, 
Loggerhead Caretta caretta, Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata, Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea 
and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea). However, none of the nesting populations is known to be of 
major global importance. Numbers of seabird species are relatively high, although lower than in the 
Pacific regions, and there is low endemism. 

Recorded cetacean diversity is moderate. One species, Heaviside's Dolphin, is apparently confined 
to the Benguela Current and is therefore confined to this region and northern South Africa. One 
sirenian, the West African Manatee Trichechus senegalensis is confined to the region. However, it 
is only marginally a marine or coastal species as most of the population occurs in freshwaters, 
particularly in the inland delta region of the Niger River. Five pinnipeds occur in the region; none is 
endemic although the northern sector of the Mauritanian coast holds (or at least held) a major 
population of the critically endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus (Critically 
Endangered), which also occurs in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Regions. 



FISHERIES 

This region comprises the majority of both FAO fisheries area 34 (Eastern Central Atlantic) and area 
47 (Southeast Atlantic). The northern part of area 34 lies in the North Atlantic, while the remainder 
of area 47 lies within South Africa. The two fishing regions, which correspond largely to the two main 
LMEs outlined above, have very different characteristics from a fisheries point of view, and are 
discussed separately. 

Southeast Atlantic 

The Benguela Current upwellings create a highly productive fishery region, although one whose 
overall fishery potential remains inadequately known. 

Total catches in the region remained reasonably stable throughout the 1980s, varying from 2.1 million 
to 2.7 million tonnes. However, they declined to 1.5 million tonnes in 1990 and have remained fairly 
constant at this level. Discards in this region are believed to be well below the global average, 
amounting to an estimated 14% of the catch in the period 1988-92. 

The fish stock, and the fishery, is dominated by pelagic and demersal finfish, with relatively few 
species making up most of the biomass. Hake (Merluccius capensis and M. paradoxus) are the major 
demersal species and are present both inshore and offshore. Cape Horse Mackerel (Trachurus 
trachurus) comprises the major offshore pelagic stock while Pilchard (Sardinops ocellata) and 
Anchovy (Engraulis capensis) are the most abundant inshore pelagic species, characteristic of the 
coastal upwellings. There are smaller but still economically important stocks of a variety of other 
species (squid, rock lobster, sole). The status of these stocks remains very inadequately known 
Most demersal and pelagic stocks are believed to be fully or overexploited. Hake stocks have been 
overexploited in the past, with catches reaching a peak of 800,000 tonnes per year in the early 1970s. 
By 1989 the catch had decreased to under 450,000 tonnes with some stocks starting to show signs of 
recovery. 

As elsewhere, pelagic stocks are highly variable from year to year, and also show longer term changes. 
Cyclical changes in dominance of low trophic level fishes, with sardines and anchovies alternating in 
abundance, are of particular note. Extensive sardine fisheries began after World War II, peaking in 
1968 at around 1.5 million tonnes, and then collapsed. Anchovy catches grew as sardine catches 

63 



West and Central Africa 

declined, peaking at around 1 million tonnes in 1987 and subsequently collapsed. Evidence from 
landings, and other sources such as seabird diet, indicates that sardines may now be replacing 
anchovies as the dominant species. These changes appear to be linked to (though not necessarily in 
phase with) similar changes in the Pacific associated with El Nino events; it is unclear to what extent 
the fishery itself may have influenced the pattern. 

A major factor in fisheries in this area has been the impact of distant water fleets. Up to 1990, over 
40% of the catch in the southeast Atlantic was taken by distant water fleets, particularly those from 
the ex-USSR, operating mainly off Angola and Namibia. This arose because until independence was 
granted to Namibia in 1 990 there was no coastal state control over fishing off the Namibian coast. 
With the declaration elsewhere of 200 nm EEZs subsequent to UNCLOS entering into force, this 
region became one of the few major fishing grounds in the world with open access. In 1990 Namibia 
requested all foreign fleets to cease their fishing activities off the Namibian coast while fisheries laws 
and management strategies were developed. Quotas and regulations have been introduced since then 
which are intended to allow biomass of important stocks such as hake to increase. 

East-central Atlantic 

As well as the countries included within the UNEP West and Central Africa Region Sea, this fishery 
area also includes the Canary Islands (to Spain) and the Atlantic coast of Morocco, here considered 
as part of the North Atlantic. The northern part of the region comprises the Canary Current LME, the 
southern part the Guinea Current LME. 

Landings in this region have fluctuated widely over the past 25 years, rising from around 2.5 million 
tonnes in the early 1970s to 3.8 million tonnes in 1977, falling to around 3 million tonnes in the mid- 
1980s and then reaching an all-time peak in the late 1980s of over 4 million tonnes, before dropping 
again to around 3.2 million tonnes by 1992. Much of this fluctuation can be ascribed to variations in 
landings of smaller pelagic resources such as horse mackerel and sardine, whose populations vary 
greatly as a result of climatic change and changes in fishing pressure. Estimated discard rates for 1988- 
1992 here are similar to those for the Southeast Atlantic at around 14%, considerably lower than the 
global average. 

The great majority of stocks in this region appear to be fully exploited or overexploited. Demersal 
fisheries in the Mauritania-Senegal region have been seriously reduced and catches have remained 
static or decreased despite major increases in fishing pressure; increases in octopus and shrimp 
abundance in the area are taken as signs of ecosystem stress from overfishing. There are important but 
highly variable pelagic stocks of sardine, mackerel and horse mackerel which are difficult to assess. 

The state of resources within much of the Gulf of Guinea from Sierra Leone south remains 
inadequately known. There is a wide range of multi-species fisheries, including both demersal and 
small pelagic species. The most important, though high unstable, stocks are the small pelagics 
associated with the seasonal upwellings along the coast from Cote d'lvoire to Benin. These have 
shown collapse in the past, probably owing to a combination of high fishing pressure and unfavourable 
climatic conditions, but since the early 1980s have been at high levels, although are believed to be 
fully exploited. 

As in the Benguela Current LME, a high proportion of the catch (just under 60% during 1989 and 
1990) has been taken by distant water fleets. This reflects policy decisions taken by coastal states in 
the region and also their current difficulty in exploiting fisheries resources themselves, particularly 
given the volatility of the important pelagic stocks. In 1990, 40% of the catch here (primarily small 

64 



West and Central Africa 

pelagics off West Africa) was taken by the former USSR As the former Eastern European economies, 
including the ex-USSR, undergo structural adjustment and their fleets begin to operate under market 
forces it is expected that their activities in this region will decrease considerably. Catches of pelagics 
may be expected therefore to decline at least in the short term. This provides an opportunity for the 
countries in the region to develop their fisheries in a rational manner. 

There is a clear need in this region for more detailed evaluations of many stocks, and more rapid 
updating of information, particularly for the highly volatile pelagic stocks which are generally shared 
by a number of countries. 



65 



SOUTH AFRICA 



South Africa 



This marine region is not within an existing Regional Seas 
area and has been defined here for the purposes of this 
document. 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 




There are two LMEs partially contained within this region: the Benguela Current and the Agulhas 
Current. A more detailed account of these two systems can be found in the West and Central Africa 
Region and the East African Region respectively. 

The area off the coast of South Africa is dominated by both the Benguela and Agulhas Currents. The 
Benguela Current transports cold water towards the equator along the west coast of South Africa at 
a speed of approximately 20 cm per second and the Angulhas Current transports warm equatorial 
waters along the east coast towards the Antarctic. The southern region of South Africa's 3,000 km 
coastline is a transition zone between these water masses, and has flora and fauna representative of 
both systems as well as its own endemic species. 



BIODIVERSITY 

South Africa Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



% 



endemic 



% 



seagrasses 





7 


15 


sharks 


coral genera 





46 


42 


seabirds 


molluscs 





145 


3 


cetaceans 


shrimps 





20 


6 


sirenians 


lobsters 


2 


22 


15 


pinnipeds 







93 27 

39 13 

32 41 



4 12 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region: T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



South Africa Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



lobsters 



Homarus capensis 
Palinustus unicomutus 



Cape lobster 
Unicorn blunthorn lobster 



67 



South Africa 



scientific name 



common name status 



sharks 



Apristurus saldanha 
Haploblepharus edwardsii 
Haploblepharus fuscus 
Poroderma marleyi 
Scyliorhinus capensis 
Scylliogaleus quecketti 
Triakis megalopterus 



Saldanha catshark 

Puffadder shyshark 

Brown shyshark 

Barbeled catshark 

Yellowspotted catshark 

Flapnose houndshark 

Sharptooth houndshark 



Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass diversity is moderate with no endemics. Generic diversity of hermatypic corals is lower 
than in most of the coralline areas of the Indo-Pacific, but still higher than the Atlantic and Caribbean; 
there are no endemic genera. Richness in molluscs, shrimps and lobsters is low to moderate, with 
very low endemism. 

Recorded shark diversity is very high, being exceeded only by the East Asian Seas and South Pacific 
Regions; seven species have not been recorded elsewhere. This high diversity is in part a reflection 
of South Africa's position at the meeting point of to major oceanographic regions (the Atlantic and 
Indo-Pacific), but is also probably a reflection of the better state of knowledge of South Africa's 
aquatic resources compared with adjacent regions. Only two species of sea turtle - the Loggerhead 
Caretta caretta and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea are definitely known to nest, both on the Kwa- 
Zulu coast in the east. The Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea may also nest in small numbers. The 
reasonably high seabird diversity is probably a more accurate reflection of the real situation as this 
group of birds has been fairly well documented, at least at the regional level. There appear to be no 
endemic seabirds in the region. 

Cetacean diversity is fairly high. Heaviside's Dolphin Cephalorhynchus heavisidii is apparently 
confined to the Benguela Current and is therefore endemic to South Africa and the West and Central 
African Region. There are no sirenians recorded, although the Dugong Dugong dugon may be a 
vagrant in the east. Four pinnipeds occur in South Africa (and/or its associated islands). None is 
endemic to the country nor currently considered threatened. 



FISHERIES 

The seas around South Africa include parts of FAO statistical area 47 (Southeast Atlantic) and 51 
(Western Indian Ocean); only a small part of the east coast borders the latter region. 

Southeast Atlantic (see also West & Central Africa) 

Nutrient upwellings generated by the north-flowing Benguela Current result in an exceptionally high 
biological productivity. Relatively few species account for most fish biomass: Hake Merluccius, Horse 
Mackerel Trachurus and Chub Mackerel Scomber offshore, with Pilchard Sardinops and Anchovy 
Engraulis as the inshore pelagics. The total annual catch remained relatively stable at 2.1-2.7 million 
tonnes in the 1970s and 1980s, but decreased heavily to 1.5 million tonnes in 1990 and remained 



68 



South Africa 

around that level in 1992. This reduction may be largely due to decreased activity by distant water 
vessels. 

Hakes, the most abundant demersal stock in the Southeast Atlantic, consist of two different species; 
Merluccius capensis and M. paradoxus. South African catches of hake have decreased from 450,000 
tonnes in the 1970s to 309,000 tonnes in 1992. All Hake stocks are over-exploited although southern 
stocks are showing signs of recovery. 

The stock of Cape Horse Mackerel (Trachurus capensis) appears in good condition; current policy is 
to maintain high level exploitation, and emphasise purse-seining offshore in order to minimise bycatch. 
The South Africa anchovy stock Engraulis capensis is almost entirely exploited by South African 
fishing vessels and produced landings of 373,000 tonnes in 1989, to be used mainly for fish meal 
production. These stocks were considered to be fully exploited but landings between 1990 and 1992 
almost doubled to 186,000 million tonnes. The South African pilchard (Sardinops ocellata) which 
crashed in the 1960s still show no sign of recovery and continue to be depleted. 

Up to 1989, stock exploitation was monitored by the International Commission for the Southeast 
Atlantic Fisheries (ICSEAF). The ICSEAF ceased its operations in early 1990 following the 
independence of Namibia. Fishery rights in Namibia's EEZ were mainly granted to South Africa in 
1987 but elapsed in 1993. 

Western Indian Ocean 

No data are available on South Africa landings in the Western Indian Ocean. 



69 



EAST AFRICA 

Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Reunion 
and dependencies (to France), Seychelles, Somalia, 

Tanzania, Mauritius, Mayotte (to France) 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

The mainland sector of the East Africa Regional Seas area 
includes all of the Somali Coastal Current LME and much 
of the Agulhas Current LME. 

Somali Coastal Current 




This LME, extending over some 50 million knr, is one of the world's largest. It is based on the 
Somali Current - a typical Western Boundary Current (a surface current along an eastern continental 
margin). The South Equatorial Current flows from east to west throughout the year; on approaching 
the east coast of Africa it divides into the north-flowing East Africa Coastal Current and the south- 
flowing Mozambique Current. During the southern monsoon (April-October), the northern sector of 
the East Africa Coastal Current (the Somali Current) continues to flow north at speeds up to 7 knots. 
This flow, combined with strong offshore winds generates major upwelling of cold waters along the 
northern Somali coast (the Ras Hafun upwelling). During the northern monsoon (November-March) 
the Somali Current reverses to flow southward. The phenomena of upwelling and seasonal current 
reversal are associated with high fishery productivity. 

Agulhas Current 

This major Western Boundary Current is a product of the Mozambique Current (see above) flowing 
south between Madagascar and mainland Africa, and the Madagascar Current, flowing south down the 
eastern coast of Madagascar. The Agulhas Current is fast and warm (rarely below 21 °C), and flows 
south throughout the year. It appears to be less productive than eg. the Somali Current system but has 
high fish diversity. South Africa is not within the Eastern Africa Regional Seas area, but its entire east 
coast is subject to the effects of the Agulhas Current. 



BIODIVERSITY 

East Africa Regional Sea: biodiversity data 





endemic 


T 


% 




endemic 


T 


% 


seagrasses 





11 


23 


sharks 


3 


73 


21 


coral genera 





63 


57 


seabirds 


2 


44 


15 


molluscs 





80 


2 


cetaceans 





27 


35 


shrimps 





54 


16 


sirenians 





1 


25 


lobsters 


2 


37 


25 


pinnipeds 


- 





- 



71 



East Africa 

Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



East Africa Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



lobsters 



Nephropsis malhaensis 
Palinustus mossambicus 



Saya de Malha lobsterette 
Buffalo blunthorn lobster 



sharks 



Chiloscvllium caerulopunctatum 
Ctenacis fehlmanni 
Ginglymostoma brevicaudatum 



Bluespotted bambooshark 

Harlequin catshark 

Short-tail nurse shark 



seabirds 



Pseudobulweria aterrima 
Pterodroma baraui 



Mascarene petrel CR 

Barau's petrel CR 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar et al. (1994); all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). 



Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrasses are diverse, with nearly a quarter of the world's species present in the region, although 
again none is endemic. Generic diversity of hermatypic corals is high, although there are no endemic 
genera. Diversity among molluscs and shrimps is low, but moderate in lobsters, with two regional 
endemic species. 

From available information, there is a diverse shark fauna (although less diverse than in adjacent 
South Africa) with three species apparently endemic. Five marine turtle species nest in the region: 
the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas, Loggerhead Caretta caretta, Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata, 
Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea and Leatherback Dermochelys olivacea. Nesting populations in 
general are poorly known but generally not suspected to be of major importance except in the case 
of Green Turtles on Europa and Tromelin. Seabirds are moderately diverse; two critically endangered 
species: the Mascarene Black Petrel Pseudobulweria (or Pterodroma) aterrima, known only from 
Reunion and from subfossil remains on Rodrigues (Mauritius) and Barau's Petrel Pterodroma baraui, 
of which a population of somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 pairs survives on Reunion. 

There are no pinnipeds resident in the region; amongst sirenians, significant populations of the 
widespread but vulnerable Dugong Dugong dugon survive. 



FISHERIES 

The region comprises the southern part of FAO Statistical Area 5 1 . Annual recorded landings by the 
countries in the region have been around 220,000 tonnes since 1990, having grown steadily from 



72 



East Africa 

around 130,000 tonnes in 1983. A substantial proportion of the catch here is by artisanal fishers for 
subsistence purposes and goes largely unrecorded. Nevertheless, overall catch here is undoubtedly still 
very low compared with other parts of the world and comprises an insignificant proportion of the 
world total. Of recorded catch, Madagascar accounts for something over one third (70,000-80,000 
tonnes annually), with Tanzania and Mozambique together accounting for a further 40% or so. Much 
of the catch comprises demersal species and shrimps. 

Some fisheries in the area are believed fully fished or overexploited. These include the demersal trawl 
fishery off Somalia, the shallow water shrimp fishery off Mozambique and Madagascar and the 
handline fishery for demersal stocks on offshore banks between Mauritius and Madagascar. It is 
believed that more effective management of the shrimp fishery could lead to harvests being maintained 
with a 75% reduction in fishing effort. There may be opportunities for increased finfish catches in the 
region, notably in small pelagic stocks off Mozambique and Somalia, demersal trawl fishes off 
Mozambique, Madagsacar and Tanzania, increased utilisation of by-catch from shrimp trawlers and 
some further expansion of artisanal fisheries off Madagascar and Somalia. However, lack of reporting 
from subsistence fisheries means that exploitation of demersals in particular may be higher than catch 
statistics imply, so that opportunities for expansion are more limited than appears. 

Overall, there is an urgent need for improved data collection on fish stocks and fisheries in much of 
the region to allow for rational development of fisheries. 



73 



RED SEA AND GULF OF ADEN 

Egypt, Eritrea, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, 
Yemen, Djibouti, 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

This region includes the Red Sea LME and, separated by 
the straits at Bab el Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, which is 
not part of an identified LME. 

Red Sea 




The Red Sea is located in an arid tropical zone; it is highly-enclosed, has no permanent riverine inputs, 
and is the warmest and most saline of the world's seas. The Red Sea is around 2,000 km long and up 
to 280 km wide, with a mean depth of 500 m and maximum of 2,000 m. It is unique among deep 
bodies of water in having stable warm temperatures throughout its deeper waters (a near constant 21 °C 
below about 300m depth). These temperatures are largely maintained through a density-driven water 
circulation in which warm waters from the Gulf of Suez sink and flow steadily southwards. Very high 
rates of evaporation (1-2 m per year) and low freshwater input (10 mm per year) lead to a considerable 
net inflow of water into the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden. Although at depth there is a constant 
outflow of dense and more saline waters, surface currents are more complex and show a distinct 
seasonality. Tides are not a major feature in the Red Sea, they show an oscillatory pattern, with central 
portions being almost tideless and the tides at the northern and southern regions barely reaching 1 m 
amplitude during spring tides. 

The Red Sea was formed some 70 million years ago and has been subjected to numerous changes in 
condition as it broke and re-established links between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, 
particularly during the recent ice ages, causing considerable changes in sea levels and salinity. The 
current rich species assemblage is thought to have originated from the Indian Ocean probably only 
around 10,000 years ago. 

The surface waters of the Gulf of Aden have lower salinity and generally lower temperatures than 
those of the Red Sea. Towards the mouth of the Gulf of Aden and around the island of Socotra the 
pattern of ocean currents is complex, affected by seasonal monsoonal systems from the east and 
southwest, and, importantly from a cold-water upwelling in the northern Arabian Sea. 

Coral reefs are perhaps the best known habitat in the region and occur in all areas, particularly the 
northern Red Sea. Coral reef development is more restricted in the Gulf of Aden, particularly in the 
areas affected by the cool water upwellings; although corals occur they have not developed into true 
reef systems. In parts of the Gulf of Aden, hard substrates are dominated by kelp communities. Other 
habitat types include seagrass beds, limited mangrove communities, saltmarshes and saltflats {sabkhas, 
often seasonally rather than tidally inundated). 



75 



Red Sea and Gulf of Aden 

BIODIVERSITY 

Red Sea Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic T % endemic 



seagrasses 





11 


23 


sharks 


coral genera 


1 


53 


49 


seabirds 


molluscs 





57 


1 


cetaceans 


shrimps 





24 


7 


sirenians 


lobsters 





14 


9 


pinnipeds 






39 


11 





22 


8 





25 


28 





1 


25 


_ 





_ 



Notes: the data relet in species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in llie region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass diversity is relatively high compared to surrounding areas of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf, 
although there arc no recorded endemics. The diversity of mangroves is very low because of the very 
demanding temperature and salinity levels. One of the four species recorded, Bruguiera gymnorhiza 
may no longer he present. 

At the generic level, corals of the Red Sea represent an important westward extension of high diversity 
in the Indo-I'acifn. region. Endemism among Red Sea corals, around 6% of the species, is not high; 
endemism stands at around 17% for Arabia together with the western Indian Ocean. One genus is 
reportedly endemic to the Red Sea. 

Data for other marine invertebrates are more limited: about 170 echinoderm species have been 
recorded, vt iih rates of endemism at about 7%; around 1,000 species of mollusc are recorded from the 
Arabian region as a whole, although endemism in this group is lower; a survey of polychaetes in the 
northern Red Sea listed some 250 species from 136 genera, although the total for this group is likely 
to be much higher The data sources reviewed here indicate low diversity in molluscs, shrimps and 
lobsters in the Red Sea region. 

About 1.000 tish species have been recorded from the Red Sea (including non-reef fishes). This is 
about one-third ol the total present in the region of maximum fish diversity (Indonesia-Philippines), 
and therefore highl\ significant. Endemism is also high; around 17% for fishes overall, and much 
higher within some tamilies. 

Three species ol marine turtle are known to nest in the region: the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas, 
Hawksbill Ervimochelys imbricata and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea. There are, however, 
believed to be major concentrations of both Green Turtle and Hawksbill. 

Shark, seabird and cetacean diversity are all relatively low, with no endemic species. There are no 
pinnipeds but one species of sirenian the Dugong Dugong dugon is present. 

76 



Red Sea and Gulf of Aden 
FISHERIES 

From a global perspective, fisheries in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are insignificant, amounting to 
an estimated 160,000 tonnes or so per year (Sanders and Morgan, 1989). For most of the countries 
in the region, however, they provide an important source of fish, and often the only source. 

Most of the landings are made by small scale, artisanal fishermen exploiting inshore coastal waters, 
typically these are multispecies fisheries associated with the coral reefs. Some large scale industrial 
fishing is undertaken, for example by Yemen. Inshore stocks are intensively exploited in some areas 
and in these areas there is believed to be little room for expansion. Extensive areas of upwelling in 
the Gulf of Aden have given rise to a high biomass of small pelagics and mesopelagic species, which 
are currently very little exploited compared with potential yields. Mesopelagic stock is described in 
more detail under the South Asian Seas. 

Generally, increased exploitation in the region is dependent on expansion into new fishing areas. This 
will entail the use of more advanced fishing methods. Exploitation of the mesopelagic stock, which 
remains little known at present, is currently not considered economically or technically viable. 

Much attention has been given to fisheries development in Eritrea since independence. At the end of 
the protracted war of independence, fishing capacity was low because of destruction and deterioration 
of vessels and infrastructure. Agreements are being negotiated with a number of countries seeking 
access to Eritrean waters. 



77 



KUWAIT 

Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi 
Arabia, United Arab Emirates 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

This region does not include a formally identified 

LME. It is comprised of the Persian (Arabian) Gulf 

and, separated by the Straits of Hormuz, the Gulf of 

Oman; the latter is contiguous with the northwest 

sector of the Arabian Sea LME. The Gulf is a shallow (maximum depth 31 m) sedimentary basin, with 

freshwater input mainly from the Tigris-Euphrates system, and subject to strong evaporation. 

Temperature and salinity in the Gulf range from high to very high during summer. Evaporation is 

greatest in southern sectors of the Gulf, where surface salinity is highest; this drives outward 

movement of dense water at depth through the Straits of Hormuz and inward movement of less saline 

surface waters from the Gulf of Oman. 




BIODIVERSITY 

Kuwait Regional Sea: biodiversity data 





endemic 


T 


% 




endemic 


T 


% 


seagrasses 





5 


10 


sharks 


1 


34 


10 


coral genera 


1 


37 


34 


seabirds 





21 


7 


molluscs 





66 


2 


cetaceans 





26 


30 


shrimps 





14 


4 


sirenians 





1 


25 


lobsters 





12 


8 


pinnipeds 


- 





- 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region: T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



Kuwait Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



sharks 



Chiloscyllium arabicum 



Arabian carpetshark 



79 



Kuwait 

Biodiversity Notes 

Recorded seagrass diversity is low. Diversity of hermatypic coral genera is markedly lower than in 
the rest of the coralline areas of the Indo-Pacific, although there is one endemic genus. Diversity in 
molluscs, sharks and lobsters is low, although two lobster species appear to be endemic. 

Relatively few shark species have been recorded, although one is apparently endemic. Four marine 
turtle species nest in the region: the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas, Loggerhead Caretta caretta, 
Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata and Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea. The world's largest known 
population of Loggerheads nests on Masirah Island, Oman, and there are also major populations of 
Green Turtles and Hawksbills. Seabird diversity is low. 

Moderate numbers of cetacean species have been recorded, with no endemics. There are no pinnipeds, 
but one sirenian: the Dugong Dugong dugon, which appears to be somewhat more abundant than had 
previously been thought. 



FISHERIES 

Fisheries catches in this region are insignificant on a global scale, amounting to around half a million 
tonnes annually. Around half of the total is landed by Iran, where fisheries have increased 
considerably, standing in 1992 and 1993 at around 340,000 tonnes, compared with less than 100,000 
tonnes in the early 1980s. Most of this increase is in unidentified species. 

Locally, there is concern regarding the important Spanish Mackerel Scomberomorus commersoni 
fishery in the Gulf of Oman, which appears to be severely overfished, with 70-80% of the catch now 
consisting of small, immature animals. This stock is migratory and shared by a number of states, so 
that any control of fishing will require international cooperation. 

Also of local importance has been the collapse of the shrimp Penaeus semisulcatus fishery in the 
Persian Gulf following the Gulf War. The spawning biomass of this species is believed to have fallen 
to less than 2% of the pre-war level, which may well lead to a recruitment collapse. Landings in Saudi 
Arabia have fallen from 4000 tonnes in 1989 to 25 tonnes in 1992. The biology of the species is not 
well enough understood to allow the reasons for this collapse to be identified with certainty, although 
they seem very likely to be linked to the war, and probably to the very large quantities of crude oil 
burnt off in Kuwait at that time. 

Surveys indicate that the Gulf of Oman, along with adjacent areas of the Arabian Sea and northwest 
Indian Ocean, are highly productive, with a large biomass of small pelagics and of mesopelagic 
species; the latter are discussed in more detail in the South Asian region. 



80 



SOUTH ASIA 

Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, 

British Indian Ocean Territory 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

The South Asia region includes the major part of two 
LMEs - the Arabian Sea, to the west of the Indian 
subcontinent and Sri Lanka, and the Bay of Bengal to 
the east. South of Sri Lanka lies the central Indian 
Ocean, not identified as an LME. 

Arabian Sea 




The Arabian Sea is semi-enclosed, characterised centrally by low oxygen levels and low productivity. 
Surface water ciri.iil.iies in an anti-clockwise direction during the northeast monsoon (November-April) 
and clockwise during ihc southwest monsoon (May-October). Upwelling driven by monsoon winds 
tends to produce seasonal concentrations offish stocks in coastal areas, especially in eastern sectors, 
where artisanal and commercial fisheries exist. The Arabian Sea is relatively saline; evaporation is high 
and the Indus Ki\er provides the only significant freshwater input (its annual discharge of some 450 
million tons ol sediment has produced an undersea delta many hundreds of square kilometres in 
extent). 

Bay of Bengal 

The Bay of Bengal is another semi-enclosed water mass. It maintains a clockwise surface current 
regardless ol monsoon season, and receives considerable freshwater input from precipitation and from 
the Ganges-Brahmaputra system, resulting in a two-layered stratified water column. The Ganges- 
Brahmaputr.i also contributes an enormous sediment load to the region. 



BIODIVERSI I ^ 

South Asia Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



% 



endemic 



seagrasses 
coral gcncT.i 
molluscs 
shrimps 
lobsters 






9 


19 


sharks 


1 


63 


58 


seabirds 





246 


6 


cetaceans 





94 


27 


sirenians 





23 


15 


pinnipeds 



6 


58 


17 





26 


9 





28 


32 





1 


25 


_ 





_ 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



81 



South Asia 

South Asia Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name common name status 



sharks Apristurus investigatoris Broadnose catshark 

Cephaloscyllium silasi Indian swellshark 

Eugomphodus tricuspidatus Indian sand tiger 

Glyphis gangeticus Ganges shark CR 

Halaelurus alcocki Arabian catshark 

Halaelurus hispidus Brisley catshark 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Status categories are 
recorded in IUCN (1996). 



Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass diversity is higher than the Atlantic but lower than much of the rest of the Indo-Pacific; there 
are no known endemic species. The South Asia region has high hermatypic coral diversity, although 
lower than the South Pacific and East Asia Seas Regions; one genus is endemic. Mollusc numbers are 
moderate, but the region is relatively rich in shrimp and lobsters; none of the species in the groups 
reviewed is endemic. 

Recorded shark diversity is fairly low, although six species appear to be endemic. Five marine turtle 
species nest in the region: the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas. Loggerhead Caretta caretta, Hawksbill 
Eretmochelys imbricata, Olive Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea and Leatherback Dermochelys olivacea. 
Only the Olive Ridley nesting populations (notably those on the east coast of India in Orissa State) 
are of global significance. Seabirds are not particularly diverse, and there are no species endemic to 
the region. 

Cetacean diversity is average; all species recorded in the region are widespread elsewhere. There are 
no pinnipeds but one species of Sirenian, the Dugong Dugong dugon (Vulnerable) is present although 
much reduced in numbers. 



FISHERIES 

The region comprises the northeastern part of FAO Statistical Area 5 1 (Western Indian Ocean) and 
the northwestern part of Area 57 (Eastern Indian Ocean). 

Overall annual landings in this region have increased from around 2.5 million tonnes in 1984-87 to 
around 4.5 million tonnes for the period 1989-1992. India accounts for just over half this total and Sri 
Lanka for a further 30% or so. 

In the Arabian Sea, where India is the principal fishing nation, the catch mainly consists of a wide 
range of demersals (especially croakers, Bombay duck and catfishes) and small pelagics, including 
Indian oil sardine, Indian mackerel and anchovy. Much of the increase in catch since 1988 is in 
species not identified in FAO statistics. Demersal stocks, particularly shrimps, in the Bay of Bengal 

82 



South Asia 

and along the eastern coast of India are fully exploited or overfished, with movement to exploit 
resources in deeper waters. 

Small-scale artisanal and industrial prawn fisheries fish the same coastal areas off the Indian coast, 
leading to intense fishing pressure and conflict between the two sectors. There is also a considerable 
waste of resources here: an estimated 120,000 tonnes of fish is discarded annually as by-catch from 
shrimp trawls off the east India coast. 

Within the Bay of Bengal some of the waters around the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelagos remain 
a refuge for fishes, with very little fishing recorded; on the western side of these islands, however, 
overfishing in coastal water has depleted stocks so that India has initiated joint venture fisheries in 
deeper waters. 

It is widely believed that the two major as yet largely unexploited marine fish stocks are Antarctic krill 
and the mesopelagic finfishes, particularly in tropical oceans. Mesopelagic fishes occur at intermediate 
depths (usually 150-500 m) by day but may migrate to the epipelagic zone to feed at night. Study of 
mesopelagic faunas has been limited to date, as it requires the use of expensive high seas research 
vessels; knowledge of taxonomy, distribution and biology of most of the species concerned remains 
very incomplete (Longhurst and Pauly, 1987). Information was summarised by Gj0saeter and 
Kawaguchi (1980), who regarded around 160 genera in 30 families as important components of the 
fauna. Most species are small <10 cm, and often bizarrely shaped. On the basis of a variety of surveys 
carried out they estimated global biomass of this stock to be very large indeed: of the order of 650 
million tonnes, although this figure should be regarded with extreme circumspection (Longhurst and 
Pauly, 1987). 

From data available at the time, it appeared that the mesopelagic biomass was greatest in the northern 
Indian Ocean, and particularly in the northern Arabian sea. Surveys here indicated extremely high 
biomass (25-250 g m 2 ) in the Gulf of Aden (see Red Sea Region) and Gulf of Oman (see Kuwait 
Region) as well as off the western coastline of Pakistan. The rest of the region had lower, but still very 
high, biomass of 1 0-85 g m~ 2 . Concentration was highest just at or beyond the edge of the continental 
shelf and here biomass of 50-500 g m 2 was commonly recorded. This compares with around 0.5 g m" 2 
for the open Indian Ocean between India and Africa. Within the Arabian Sea the main concentration 
was at 150-350 m depth by day and in the upper 50 m by night. In the open Indian Ocean 
concentrations were deeper, at around 250-500 m. 

These figures are around an order of magnitude higher than those recorded elsewhere in the tropics, 
indicating either great overestimate for the northern Indian Ocean, or underestimate elsewhere, or that 
this region genuinely is ten times as productive as the rest of the tropical ocean system. Although this 
appears as yet unresolved, it is nevertheless apparent that there is substantial global mesopelagic fish 
biomass and that the Arabian Sea is rich in these species. Their potential as an exploitable resource 
has been investigated but it is not yet regarded as economically viable. Capture and processing requires 
expensive, advanced technology, while the products would currently be of low value (fishmeal for 
animal feed, including aquaculture). Before large-scale exploitation is begun, far more information is 
required on the ecology and population dynamics of this fauna and how it relates to other components 
of the marine ecosystem. 



83 




EAST ASIAN SEAS 

Australia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, 
Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, 

Taiwan, Brunei 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

The East Asian Seas region covers the eastern portion of 
the Bay of Bengal LME and the entirety of another four 

LMEs: South China Sea, Sulu-Celebes Sea, Indonesian Seas and the Northern Australian Shelf. The 
region is geomorphologically highly diverse; it includes shallow shelf zones, deep trenches, straits and 
channels separating many large and innumerable small islands, all carried on a complex pattern of 
tectonic plates. To the east of the region, at around the latitude of Luzon, the west-flowing North 
Equatorial Current divides into the Kuroshio Current, flowing north, and the Mindanao Current, 
flowing south. There is evidence that many rivers in the region are carrying an increasing load of 
terrigenous sediments into coastal waters, which are also heavily impacted by pollution from coastal 
industries and human settlements. 

South China Sea 

This LME extends over some 3.5 million km 2 , from the mainland coast of Asia, where it is divided 
into subsystems (eg. the Gulf of Thailand and the Gulf of Tonkin), to the western margins of the 
Philippines and the island of Borneo. Productivity tends to be high in coastal areas and low at depth. 
Coastal fishery resources have been heavily impacted by overfishing and pollution. 

Sulu-Celebes Seas 

This is a semi-enclosed LME, extending over 900,000 km 2 between Palawan (Philippines) in the north 
and Sulawesi in the south. Much of the region has a depth greater than 3,000 m. The offshore waters 
are little exploited and fishing is mainly limited to coastal areas; coastal trawling for prawn is a major 
export base and artisanal fishing takes finfish for local consumption. 

Indonesian Seas 

Centred on the Banda Sea, and including the Arafura Sea, this moderate-size (400,000 km 2 ) tropical 
LME lies entirely within Indonesian territory. The sea and its productivity are much influenced by 
annual monsoon effects, and to some extent by El Nino-Southern Oscillation events. Pelagic fish 
resources, apparently enhanced during seasonal upwellings, are generally underexploited. 

North Australian Shelf 

This LME is composed of the continental shelf waters of north and northwest Australia. It supports 
a diverse and productive community of demersal fishes. 



85 



East Asian Seas 

BIODIVERSITY 

East Asian Regional Sea: biodiversity data 





endemic 


T 


% 




endemic 


T 


% 


seagrasses 


1 


17 


35 


sharks 


23 


140 


40 


coral genera 


4 


82 


75 


seabirds 


2 


39 


13 


molluscs 





1,114 


27 


cetaceans 





28 


32 


shrimps 





162 


47 


sirenians 





1 


25 


lobsters 


6 


48 


32 


pinnipeds 


- 





- 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



East Asian Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



seagrasses 



lobsters 



sharks 



scientific name 



Cymodocea angustata 



Metanephrops arafurensis 
Metanephrops australiensis 
Metanephrops neptunus 
Metanephrops sinensis 
Neoglyphea inopinata 
Puerulus velutinus 



Apristurus herklotsi 
Apristurus sibogae 
Apristurus sinensis 
Apristurus verweyi 
Asymbolus sp. A 
Atelomycterus sp. A 
Carcharhinus bomeensis 
Centrophorus niaukang 
Cirrhoscyllium expolitum 
Cirrhoscyllium formosanum 
Etmopterus decacuspidatus 
Etmopterus sp. C 
Etmopterus sp. E 
Galeus schultzi 
Halaelurus immaculatus 
Halaelurus sp. A 



common name 



Arafura lobster 

Northwest lobster 

Neptune lobster 

China lobster 

Fenix lobster 

Velvet whip lobster 



Longfin catshark 

Pale catshark 

South China catshark 

Borneo catshark 



Borneo shark 

Taiwan gulper shark 

Barbelthroat carpetshark 

Taiwan saddled carpetshark 

Combtoothed lanternshark 

lanternshark 

lanternshark 

Dwarf sawtail catshark 

Spotless catshark 



status 



86 



East Asian Seas 



scientific name 



common name 



status 



sharks (continued) 



Hemitriakis leucoperiptera 
Hemitriakis sp. A 
Parmaturus melanobranchius 
Pentanchus profundicolus 
Squalus sp. D 
Squatina formosa 
Squatina tergocellatoides 



Whitefin topeshark 

Blackgill catshark 
Onefin catshark 

Taiwan angelshark 
Ocellated angelshark 



seabirds 



Fregata andrewsi 
Papasula abbotti 



Christmas frigatebird VU 

Abbott's booby VU 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered. EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar et al. (1994): all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). 



Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass diversity is high, though marginally lower than the South Pacific Region; one species is 
apparently endemic.The East Asian Seas Region is the world centre of diversity for hermatypic 
corals. More than 80 genera are recorded, of which four appear to be endemic to the region. This 
region has the highest number of molluscs and shrimps, although none appears to be endemic. It also 
has high diversity of lobsters, with the second highest endemism count (six). 

Similarly, recorded shark diversity is higher here than in any other region, with a correspondingly 
large number of endemics. Sea turtle diversity is very high, with six of the world's seven species 
nesting in the region (only Kemp's Ridley Lepidochelys kempii is absent). One species, the Flatback 
Natator depressus, is nearly endemic as a breeding species to the region, only occurring in northern 
Australia and patchily along the Great Barrier Reef (in the South Pacific Region). There are also 
globally important nesting populations of Green Turtle Chelonia mydas, Hawksbill Eretmochelys 
imbricata and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea. 

As with most other largely tropical areas, seabird diversity is only moderate, although there are two 
endemic species, both confined as breeding species to Christmas Island (to Australia) in the Indian 
Ocean. 

Recorded cetacean diversity is only moderate, with no endemics. There are no pinnipeds but 
important, though declining, numbers of one sirenian, the Dugong Dugong dugon (Vulnerable). 



FISHERIES 

The region comprises the western part of FAO Fisheries Statistical Area 7 1 (West-central Pacific) and 
the northeastern part of FAO Fisheries Statistical Area 57 (Eastern Indian Ocean). Although the 
southern part of China is part of this region, China's fisheries have been included under the Northwest 
Pacific Region. 



87 



East Asian Seas 

Annual fishery landings in the region have grown steadily, from just under 7 million tonnes in the 
mid-1980s to nearly 9 million tonnes in 1991-1992. However, the rate of growth has slowed 
considerably recently. Indonesia and Thailand between then account for just under 60% of the recorded 
catch, with the Philippines contributing a further 20%. Estimated discard rate here is near the global 
average (around 25%). 

The Sunda Shelf provides an extensive area of shallow water fishery in the region. Most of the catch 
consists of demersal species and small pelagics. Prawn aquaculture has grown dramatically in the 
region in the past decade and makes an increasingly large contribution to overall landings. Most of 
the landings in Indonesia and the Philippines are from small-scale artisanal fisheries. The Thai fishing 
industry is more industrialised. 

The increase in catch in the region is largely attributable to the extension of fishing grounds into new 
areas, as main iraditionally fished areas have been overfished. Demersal stocks in particular are 
overexploitcd in the Gulf of Thailand and Malacca Straits. Pelagic stocks, including mackerels, round 
scads and sardines .ire also heavily exploited here, particularly in the Bali Strait region and in 
nearshore Philippines waters. 

The fishery in the Gulf of Thailand have been studied for many years. It is the site of a large trawl 
fishery which underwent explosive growth in the 1960s and 1970s once its potential was understood 
and a suitable. light bottomed trawl was developed. The composition of the fish fauna has changed 
dramatical 1> since the 1960s. Formerly, demersal finfishes, particularly in the family Leiognathidae, 
were dominant, but since the 1970s squids, particularly Loligo, which formerly comprised an 
insignificant proportion of the stock, have dominated (Longhurst and Pauly, 1987). This has been 
attributed to o\ertishing of the larger predatory finfish species. It seems very likely that, as in other 
enclosed or semi eik losed systems (eg. the Black Sea and Baltic) eutrophication from vastly increased 
sediment and nutrient runoff has also had an impact. 

More gencralh . the degradation of coastal environments in the region is a major and growing problem. 
Impacts include effluent runoff, land reclamation and clearance of mangrove. Increasing prawn 
aquaculture is one ol the major causes of the last of these. 

Few countries in the region have implemented fisheries management plans and in many areas fishing 
techniques are highU destructive (eg. dynamite and muro-ami fishing on reefs in the Philippines). With 
the exception ot Northern Australia, where the most important fishery is for prawns, there is a pressing 
need for impnncd management and cooperation between countries. The political status of disputed 
areas, most noiahl\ the Spratly Islands and Paracel Shoals in the central part of the South China Sea 
exacerbates management problems. 



88 



NORTHWEST PACIFIC 

China; Japan; North Korea; South Korea; Russia; 

Hong Kong 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

There are seven LMEs wholly contained within the 
region: the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea, the 
Kuroshio Current, the Sea of Japan, the Oyashio Current, 
the Sea of Okhotsk, and the West Bering Sea. 

East China Sea 




This is a semi-enclosed area bordered by the Yellow Sea, the Kuroshio Current, and the countries of 
China, South Korea, and Japan. It has a maximum depth of 2,700 m and is very productive. The 
shallow coastal waters provide spawning and nursery grounds for many species of pelagic fish. Local 
circulation patterns are influenced by the bordering Kuroshio (warm)-Oyashio (cold) Current system 
and by the Chang Jiang (Yangtze) river. The warm Tsushima Current originates in the East China Sea. 
Sea surface temperatures range between 8°C and 26°C. 

Yellow Sea 

The Yellow Sea LME is also a semi-enclosed area, bounded by the Chinese mainland to the north and 
west, the Korean Peninsula to the east, and the East China Sea to the south. The continental shelf is 
one of the widest in the world and the average depth is 44 m. The whole area has a slow flushing rate 
and regional circulation is affected by the Kuroshio Current and the Huang He (Yellow River) which 
drains into the northern portion of the Yellow Sea. The sea surface temperatures vary between 3°C 
in winter and 24°C in summer. 

Kuroshio Current 

The Kuroshio Current is a warm water current that extends along the Ryukyu Archipelago and divides 
at the southern tip of Kyushu, entering the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. It is a large scale current 
approximately 100 km wide, with an average speed of 3-4 knots and a volume transport of 30-60 
million tons'sec" 1 . The strongest currents occur along the Ryukyu Archipelago where the Kuroshio 
exceeds 10 knots throughout the year. 

Sea of Japan 

The Sea of Japan LME is almost entirely enclosed by Japan, Russia, North Korea and South Korea. 
The maximum depth is 4,000 m, with an average depth of 1,000 m. This area is influenced by the 
Kuroshio-Oyashio current system. The Kuroshio Current enters the Sea of Japan as the Tsushima 
Current; fronts where this warm current and the cold Oyashio current meet off northern Japan give 
rise to very productive areas. 



89 



Northwest Pacific 

Oyashio Current 

This cold water current originates in the Sea of Okhotsk and is also called the Kurile Current. It flows 
southward along the coast of northern Japan. 

Sea of Okhotsk 

The Sea of Okhotsk is a continental marginal water body with an area of about 1 .6 million km 2 . It is 
located between the Russian mainland, the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kurile Islands and Hokkaido 
Island, Japan. Local circulation is strongly influenced by the Oyashio Current, which arises in this 
area. The maximum depth is 5,200 m, with an average depth of 1,000 m. It is largely ice covered 
during the winter. 

West Bering Sea 

The West Bering Sea is defined as the deeper areas of the Bering Sea, to the west and south of the 
eastern continental shelf. The maximum depth of this area is 4,200 m but it has an average depth of 
1,000 m. The deep Aleutian Basin determines bottom topography, and the main hydrographic influence 
is the very cold Subarctic Current. 



BIODIVERSITY 

Northwest Pacific Regional Sea: biodiversity data 

endemic T % endemic T % 



seagrasses 


5 


13 


27 


sharks 


coral genera 





69 


63 


seabirds 


molluscs 


4 


404 


10 


cetaceans 


shrimps 





91 


26 


sirenians 


lobsters 


7 


37 


25 


pinnipeds 



9 


93 


27 


6 


69 


24 





37 


42 


- 





- 


1 


8 


24 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



90 



Northwest Pacific 



Northwest Pacific Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



seagrasses 



Phyllospadix iwatensis 
Phyllospadix japonicus 
Zostera asiatica 
Zostera caespitosa 
Zostera caulescens 



molluscs 



Euspira yokoyamai 
Natica janthostomoides 
Natica tabularis 
Neverita vestita 



Yokoyama's Moon 

Violet-mouthed Moon 

Tabulated Moon 

Adorned Moon 



lobsters 



Callianassa japonica 
Callianassa petulara 
Metanephrops japonicus 
Metanephrops sagamiensis 
Parribacus japonicus 
Thaumastocheles japonicus 
Upogebia major 



Japanese ghost 

Flower ghost 

Japanese 

Sculpted 

Japanese mitten 

Pacific prince 

Japanese mud 



shrimp 
shrimp 
lobster 
lobster 
lobster 
lobster 
shrimp 



sharks 



Apristurus japonicus 
Apristurus longicephalus 
Apristurus platyrhynchus 
Centroscyllium kamoharai 
Centroscyllium ritteri 
Cirrhoscyllium japonicum 
Etmopterus unicolor 
Galeus nipponensis 
Parmaturus pilosus 



Japanese catshark 

Longhead catshark 

Spatulasnout catshark 

Bareskin dogfish 

Whitefin dogfish 

Saddle carpetshark 

Brown lanternshark 

Broadfin sawtail catshark 

Salamander shark 



seabirds 



Cepphus carbo 
Diomedea albatrus 
Larus schistisagus 
Oceanodroma matsudairae 
Pujfinus bannermani 
Synthliboramphus wumizusume 



Spectacled guillemot 

Short-tailed albatross EN 

Slaty-backed gull 

Matsudaira's storm-petrel 

Bannerman's shearwater 

Japanese murrelet VU 



pinnipeds 



*Phoca largha 



Larga seal 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar et al. (1994); all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). * present 
in Alaska (Northeast Pacific) but not known to breed there. 



91 



Northwest Pacific 

Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass richness is very high, although lower than in the East Asian Seas or South Pacific; however, 
recorded rates of endemism are very high compared with elsewhere. Similarly, generic diversity of 
hermatypic corals is very high, although lower than the East Asian Seas or South Pacific Regions; 
no endemic genus has been recorded. Diversity of molluscs, shrimp and lobsters is high, with 
significant endemism in first and last groups. 

Shark and seabird diversity are both high, with a notable number of endemics and one Endangered 
species, the Short-tailed Albatross Diomedea albatrus, which breeds on the southern Japanese islands. 
Four species of Sea Turtle are recorded as breeding (the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas. Loggerhead 
Caretta caretta, Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata, and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea). The 
Loggerhead population is regionally important, and provides most of the young Caretta impacted by 
the North Pacific drift-net fishery, and which are known to feed off Baja California (Bowen et ah, 
1995). 

Cetacean diversity is average, with no species apparently confined to the region. There are no extant 
resident populations of Sirenian although the Dugong Dugong dugon has been recorded off the 
Japanese Ryukyu islands and the now extinct Steller's Sea Cow Hydrodamalis gigas once occurred 
in the Bering Seas on the border of the Northwest and Northeast Pacific Regions. Pinniped diversity 
is moderately high and two other species of marine mammal occur, the Polar Bear Ursus maritimus 
and Northern Sea Otter Enhydra lutris. Neither is endemic; the Polar Bear is categorised as Lower 
Risk: conservation dependent. 



FISHERIES 

Overall, the fishery in the northwest Pacific is the largest in the world, accounting for nearly one third 
of all recorded marine landings. If estimated discards are taken into account, this fishery is twice the 
size of the next largest, that in the southeast Pacific. In contrast to the latter, which is overwhelmingly 
dominated by small pelagics, demersal species (notably, Alaska Pollock) make a significant 
contribution to the overall catch, although the majority of the catch is still small pelagic species. 

The recorded catch in the area peaked at nearly 27 million tonnes in 1987 but declined to 24.2 million 
tonnes in 1992, largely because of a decline in Japanese Sardine and Alaska Pollock catch. The 
decline would have been even more marked but for a large increase in mariculture production (largely 
in China), most notably of the Yesso Scallop. 

The Alaska Pollock population is shared with the Northeast Pacific region, which accounts for about 
30% of landings. It is by far the largest demersal fishery in the world. The catch has dropped 
consistently since 1986, when it exceeded 5 million tonnes, to 3.5 million tonnes in 1992 and all 
stocks are considered fully fished or overexploited. Catches increasingly consist of low-value, 
undifferentiated fish, this being a strong indication of overexploitation. Stocks in the Sea of Okhotsk 
and the Namuro Straits are believed particularly badly overfished. 

The stocks of small coastal pelagic fishes exhibit large fluctuations in abundance and dramatic changes 
in dominance from one species to another. This is most apparent around Japan, where the main species 
involved are Pacific Herring, Pacific Saury, Japanese Sardine, Japanese Chub Mackerel, Japanese 
Anchovy and Japanese Jack Mackerel. Total annual catches during the late 1980s for these species 



92 



Northwest Pacific 

were between 6 and 8 million tonnes. Since 1990 they have declined sharply, to just over 5 million 
tonnes in 1992, mostly as result of declines in Japanese Sardine catch. 

Clearly, many fisheries in this area are in serious need of improved management, most notably those 
in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea and Alaska Pollock fisheries in the north. 

Yellow Sea 

Demersal stocks and those of the larger predatory pelagics here are seriously depleted and show little 
sign of recovery. They are estimated to be between one fifth and one tenth of their highest levels. 
Coastal fisheries using fine-mesh nets are thought to cause serious losses of post-larval and juvenile 
stages of these species, hampering any recovery. The region also suffers major environmental impacts, 
including land reclamation, extensive mariculture, heavy metal pollution and oil spills. Inflow from 
the sediment- and nutrient-laden Huang He (Yellow River), combined with the low circulation rate is 
almost certainh leading to eutrophication. The combined effect appears to be a switch in dominant 
fish biomass to the smaller (and less valuable) pelagics. Since the early 1980s anchovies have 
increased dramatical!) in abundance and are now the major component of the fish biomass. This 
situation appears similar to that in the Black Sea, which is discussed in some detail. 

East China Sea 

The situation in the East China Sea is similar to that in the Yellow Sea, with a dramatic reduction in 
stocks of demersal species and larger pelagics. Overall catches in the region have risen by a factor of 
around 2.6 since the 1960s, but fishing fleet capacity has risen by a factor of around 7.6 so that catch 
per unit effort has dropped by a factor of three, indicating serious over-capitalisation. This has been 
accompanied, as in the Yellow Sea, by a shift to small, lower-trophic level fishes in the catch, which 
now comprise mosiE juveniles. There is an urgent need for reduction in fishing effort in this region, 
combined with Integrated Coastal Zone Management. 

Northern Regions 

As in the Northeast Pacific, it appears that the large stocks of Alaska Pollock and other demersals 
present d u r i n l- the 1980s were a result of good recruitment during the late 1970s and early 1980s 
because ol the El Nino conditions prevailing. Stocks are now undergoing a natural decline, exacerbated 
by overfishing m many areas: it is notable that the rate of decrease in landings here is faster than in 
the more tightlx controlled northeast Pacific. Improved management is clearly required. 



93 




NORTHEAST PACIFIC 

Canada; USA; Mexico 

This marine region is not within an existing Regional 
Seas area and has been defined here for the purposes of 
this document. 

LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

The Northeast Pacific Region comprises four LMEs: the Eastern Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the 
Californian Current, and the Gulf of California. 

Eastern Bering Sea 

The continental shelf of the East Bering Sea is the largest in the world outside of the Arctic. It exceeds 
500 km width at its narrowest point and spans 1 1° of latitude. This region is characterised by generally 
shallow water (rarely exceeding 100 m depth) and by gradual shelf gradients. Wind-driven currents 
and sea ice determine many oceanographic features of the region. Ice cover is seasonal and may last 
for up to 6 months. Surface temperatures in the Bering sea generally range between 6 and 12°C in the 
summer and 1 .5 and 2.0°C in winter. 

Gulf of Alaska 

The Gulf of Alaska LME lies off the southern coast of Alaska and the western coast of Canada. 
Hydrography is marked by the northward gyre of the Alaskan Coastal Current which flows as a narrow 
jet of low salinity water along the coast from British Columbia to Unimak Pass. In general, wind 
action in the Gulf of Alaska produces downwelling at the coast. Water temperatures are usually 
warmer than in the East Bering Sea. Surface temperatures range between 10-14°C in summer and 1- 
8°C in winter. 

Californian Current 

The cool Californian Current flows southward along the west coast of North America, with its main 
influence extending from the Columbia River to central Baja California; for most of the year it remains 
offshore except in September when it flows quite near to the coast. Upwelling occurs seasonally from 
February to September, driven by the prevailing northwesterly winds, and is a very important factor 
in the high rates of productivity seen here. The rates and volume of upwelling observed in this LME 
are greater than anywhere else along the west coast of North America. Water temperatures are fairly 
constant throughout the year. Average surface water temperatures range between 9° and 1 1 °C in winter 
and 13-15 C C in summer. 

Gulf of California 

This is a small semi-enclosed LME. It is an elongated marine basin with an approximate area of 
200,000 km 2 . As the Middle America Trench reaches into the Gulf, much of it has a depth greater than 
200 m. Being semi-enclosed, the Gulf of California waters have fairly limited exchange with the open 
Pacific. Circulation within the Gulf is seasonally influenced by reversing winds and solar radiation. 
Upwelling occurs alternately along the eastern and western coasts, driven by northwesterly winds in 
winter along the eastern coasts and by southerly winds in summer along the western coasts. Seasonal 

95 



Northeast Pacific 

variations in surface temperatures are extreme; in the northern part temperatures range between 14°C 
in February and 30°C in August and in the southern part between 20°C and 30°C. 



BIODIVERSITY 

Northeast Pacific Regional Sea: biodiversity data 





endemic 


T 


% 




endemic 


T 


% 


seagrasses 


3 


7 


15 


sharks 


5 


57 


16 


coral genera 





7 


6 


seabirds 


14 


66 


22 


molluscs 





517 


12 


cetaceans 


1 


39 


44 


shrimps 





34 


10 


sirenians 


- 





- 


lobsters 


6 


11 


7 


pinnipeds 


2 


11 


32 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region: T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



Northeast Pacific Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



seagrasses 



Phyllospadix scouleri 
Phyllospadix serrulatus 
Phyllospadix torreyi 



lobsters 



Panulirus inflatus 
Panulirus interruptus 
Upogebia pugettensis 
Callianassa biffari 
Callianassa calif omiensis 
Callianassa gigas 



Blue spiny lobster 

California spiny lobster 

Blue mud shrimp 

Beach ghost shrimp 

Bay ghost shrimp 

Giant ghost shrimp 



sharks 



Cephalurus cephalus 
Galeus piperatus 
Parmaturus xaniurus 
Mustelus californicus 
Triakis semifasciata 



Lollipop catshark 

Peppered catshark 

Filetail catshark 

Grey smooth-hound 

Leopard shark 



96 



Northeast Pacific 



scientific name 



common name status 



seabirds 



Larus heermanni 
Larus livens 
Larus occidentalis 
Oceanodroma homochroa 
Oceanodroma melania 
Oceanodroma microsoma 
Phalacrocorax penicillatus 
Ptychoramphus aleuticus 
Puffinus auricularis 
Puffinus opisthomelas 
Rissa brevirostris 
Sterna elegans 
Synthliboramphus craved 
Synthliboramphus hypoleucus 



Heermann's gull 

Yellow-footed gull 

Western gull 

Ashy storm-petrel 

Black storm-petrel 

Least storm-petrel 

Brandt's cormorant 

Cassin's auklet 

Townsend's shearwater 

Black-vented shearwater 

Red-legged kittiwake 

Elegant tern 

Craveri's murrelet 

Xantus's murrelet 



VU 

vu 

VU 



cetaceans 



Phocoena sinus 



Vaquita CR 



pinnipeds 



Arctocephalus townsendi 
Mirounga angustirostris 



Guadalupe fur seal 
Northern elephant seal 



VU 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar et al. (1994); all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). 



Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass species richness is low, but a high proportion of species appear to be endemic. Generic 
diversity of hermatypic corals in the region is very low, reflecting the distance away from the Indo- 
Pacific centre of coral diversity and the generally meagre reef formation in even the warmer parts of 
the region. Coral assemblages are limited to the southern part of the region, around Baja California 
and in the Gulf of California (although are absent south of this owing to the influence of cold water 
upwellings). Corals are found on the shore rather than offshore and do not form true reefs 
(UNEP/IUCN, 1988). The region is notably rich in molluscs, but has only moderate diversity of 
shrimp and lobsters, however six species of the latter appear to be endemic. 

Recorded shark diversity is moderate to low, although five species have not been recorded elsewhere. 
Globally important populations of four sea turtle species nest in the southern part of the region, in 
Mexico. These are the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas, Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata, Olive Ridley 
Lepidochelys olivacea and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea. Green and Leatherback populations are 
of major importance, although numbers of both are now much reduced. Large numbers of juvenile 
Loggerhead Turtles have been documented in the south of this region, feeding on pelagic Red Crab 
Pleuroncodes planipes in upwelling waters off Baja California (Bowen et al. 1995) 

Seabird diversity and endemism are both high, with three of the endemic species considered 
Vulnerable. 



97 



Northeast Pacific 

Cetacean diversity is high; one species, the Vaquita or Cochito Phocoena sinus is endemic to the 
region, being confined to the northern part of the Gulf of California. It is classified as Critically 
Endangered and is regarded as the most threatened marine cetacean (probably one of the most 
threatened of all mammals). 

There are no extant sirenians, although the huge but now extinct Steller's Sea Cow Hydrodamalis 
gigas formerly occurred in the Bering Sea (on the borders of this region and the Northwest Pacific 
Region). Pinniped diversity is the highest in the world, with two endemic species, one of which (the 
Guadalupe Fur Seal Arctocephalus townsendi from Guadalupe Island off northwest Baja California) 
is regarded as Vulnerable. This species was severely depleted by sealers to the extent that it was 
considered extinct by the 1920s. A colony was discovered in 1954 and the species has increased in 
numbers slowly since then. A second threatened species, Steller's Sea Lion Eumetopias jubatus 
(Endangered), is shared with the Northwest Pacific. Two other marine mammals are found in the 
region, the Polar Bear Ursus arctos (Lower Risk: conservation dependent) and the Northern Sea Otter 
Enhydra lutris; neither is endemic. 



FISHERIES 

The region comprises the whole of FAO Fisheries Statistical Area 67 (Northeast Pacific) and most of 
Area 77 (East-central Pacific). 

Total annual catch for the region in the early 1990s has been between 4.5 and 5 million tonnes, up 
to 70% of which is taken in the northern part (Fisheries Area 67). Catches in this area have remained 
between 3.1 and 3.5 million tonnes since the late 1980s, having grown steadily since the early 1980s. 
Catches in the southern part have decreased, from a little over 1.5 million tonnes in the mid-1980s to 
under 1.3 million tonnes in 1992. Estimated discard rate in the northern part is around the global 
average (22% of landings), while that in the East-central Pacific region overall is high (around 32% 
of catch), but this is almost certainly associated with by-catch from the inshore shrimp fishery, 
prevalent in the south (discussed under Southeast Pacific). 

Catches in the southern area are dominated by small pelagics associated with the upwellings from the 
California Current, principally Californian Sardine Sardinops sagax and North Pacific Anchovy 
Engraulis mordax. The catch is almost entirely taken by Mexico. The decrease observed in the catch 
since 1990 is believed to be the result of a minor El Nino event which affected the area in 1991 and 
1992. 

In the north, there has been a gradual change in dominance of the fisheries since the mid-1980s from 
salmon, king crab and halibut to demersal fishes, particularly Alaska Pollock, and other crabs and 
molluscs. The Alaska Pollock stock, which is shared with the northwest Pacific region, is currently 
the second-largest fished stock in the world and by far the largest demersal fish stock. Catches of this 
species in the Northeast Pacific generally make up just under half of all landings in the region. 

In general, there appears to have been a sustained period of good recruitment of many North Pacific 
fish stocks, particularly demersals, during the late 1970s and early 1980s, associated with El Nino-like 
conditions. These cause northward incursions of warmer water and associated species and apparently 
encourage recruitment in the northern Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, although they are generally 
detrimental to resident stocks further south. However, evidence from the past few years indicates that 
the stocks are now gradually declining. 



98 



Northeast Pacific 

There is also a locally important herring fishery (just under 100,000 tonnes per year). As elsewhere, 
stocks of this pelagic species vary in abundance from year to year. Little overall trend is discernible 
at present. 

Much of the region is within the US 200 nm EEZ, although some is within Canada's EEZ, and there 
is a doughnut hole of high seas within the Bering Sea. All major fishery stocks are managed by catch 
quotas or harvest guidelines, including those off the British Columbian coast of Canada, which 
imposes limited entry policies. Strict by-catch limits are imposed for valuable catches such as halibut 
and king crab which, once reached, lead to other fisheries being closed even if their own quota 
allocation has not yet been reached. For new fisheries, fishing targets are set at not more than 80% 
of calculated MSY. Attempts are being made to determine new rules for multi-species fisheries so that 
revenues for the fisheries as a whole can be maximised without jeopardising any individual stock. 

For the valuable salmon stocks there is concern about degradation of spawning and rearing habitats 
through logging, mining and coastal development. All five salmon species are considered over- 
exploited and some populations are threatened severely. There is additional concern that wild runs may 
be geneticalh camped by hatchery production. 

One of the Alaska Pollock stocks within the doughnut hole in the central Bering Sea has declined to 
a very low level nw ing to overfishing by fleets of several nations. All nations fishing in the area have 
agreed to suspend activities here for 1993 and 1994 to give the stocks a chance of recovery. 

Generally, slocks m the region are closely managed, at least in comparison with most other marine 
fisheries stocks Indeed it is built into the constitution of the State of Alaska that natural resources be 
exploited under criteria leading to sustained yield. This applies both to commercial fisheries and the 
very important sportN fisheries here. The decline in stocks over the past few years, even under 
relatively concert ami: management regimes, illustrates that fish populations are under climatic and 
other influences bound human control, and re-emphasises the importance of a precautionary approach 
to management 



99 



SOUTHEAST PACIFIC 

Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; 
Guatemala; Honduras; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

There is only one LME contained within the Southeast 
Pacific Region: the Humbolt Current LME. Easter Island 
and Sala-y-G6mez (to Chile), in mid-Pacific, are not 
within an identified LME. 




Humbolt Current 

This LME is one of the major upwelling systems of the world and extends along the western 
continental margins of South America, off Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. The cold, low salinity, nutrient- 
rich waters of the Humbolt Current are characterised by numerous gyres that are the source of local 
counter-currents and upwelling. This is in turn responsible for the extremely high levels of organic 
production in this region. The continental shelves in this LME are narrow, in places less than 10 km. 
Wider shelves can be found off the coast of Ecuador and in the Gulf of Panama. 

Periodically the oceanography of this area is dramatically altered by the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, 
when warm, eastward flowing waters from the equator come to dominate the Humbolt Current. This 
causes a rise in seawater temperature that dramatically effects the levels of nutrients available in the 
surface waters. Productivity in the region is thereby reduced and this has a devastating effect on the 
marine fauna which rely on the normally highly productive waters. 



BIODIVERSITY 

Southeast Pacific Regional Sea: biodiversity data 





endemic 


T 


% 




endemic 


T 


% 


seagrasses 





5 


10 


sharks 


9 


67 


19 


coral genera 





8 


7 


seabirds 


21 


68 


23 


molluscs 


2 


393 


9 


cetaceans 


2 


39 


44 


shrimps 





25 


7 


sirenians 


- 





- 


lobsters 


2 


8 


5 


pinnipeds 


2 


8 


24 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



101 



Southeast Pacific 



Southeast Pacific Regional Sea: regional endemic species 






scientific name common name 


status 


molluscs 


Natica brunneolinea Brown-lined Moon 
Polinices hacketti Hackett's Moon 




lobsters 


Jasus frontalis Juan Fernandez rock lobster 
Projasus bahamondei Chilean jagged lobster 





Sharks 



Aculeola nigra 
Centroscymnus macracanthus 
Heterodontus quoyi 
Apristurus stenseni 
Halaelurus canescens 
Schroederichthys chilensis 
Mustelus whitneyi 
Triakis acutipinna 
Triakis maculata 



Hooktooth dogfish 

Largespine velvet dogfish 

Galapagos bullhead shark 

Panama ghost catshark 

Dusky catshark 

Redspotted catshark 

Humpback smooth-hound 

Sharpfin houndshark 

Spotted houndshark 



seabirds 



Catharacta chilensis 
Creagrus furcatus 
Diomedea irrorata 
Larosterna inca 
Larus belcheri 
Larus fuliginosus 
Larus modestus 
Oceanites gracilis 
Oceanodroma hornbyi 
Oceanodroma tethys 
Pelecanoides gamotii 
Pelecanus thagus 
Phalacrocorax harrisi 
Pterodroma defilippiana 
Pterodroma externa 
Pterodroma longirostris 
Puffinus creatopus 
Spheniscus humboldti 
Spheniscus mendiculus 
Sterna lorata 
Sula variegata 



Chilean skua 

Swallow-tailed gull 

Waved albatross 

Inca tern 

Band-tailed gull 

Lava gull VU 

Grey gull 

White-vented storm petrel 

Ringed storm-petrel 

Wedge-rumped storm-petrel 

Peruvian diving-petrel EN 

Peruvian pelican 
Flightless cormorant VU 
Defilippe's petrel VU 
Juan Fernandez petrel 
Stejneger's petrel 
Pink-footed shearwater VU 
Humboldt penguin 
Galapagos penguin VU 
Peruvian tern 
Peruvian booby 



cetaceans 



Cephalorhynchus eutropia 
Mesoplodon peruvianus 



Black dolphin 
Lesser beaked whale 



pinnipeds 



Arctocephalus galapagoensis 
Arctocephalus phillippi 



Galapagos fur seal VU 

Juan Fernandez fur seal VU 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar et al. (1994); all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). 



102 



Southeast Pacific 
Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass diversity is low, with no endemics. As in the adjacent Northeast Pacific, hermatypic coral 
diversity is very low and there are no endemic genera. Diversity of molluscs, shrimp and lobsters 
is also low, although the first and last of these each have two endemic species. 

Shark diversity is relatively high, as are apparent rates of endemism. Four species of Sea Turtle nest 
in the region. These are the Green Turtle Chelonia mydas, Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata, Olive 
Ridley Lepidochelys olivacea and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea. The Olive Ridley nesting 
populations in Guancanaste Province in Costa Rica are of major importance, Along with those in 
Orissa, India (see South Asia Region), these are by far the largest known nesting populations in the 
world. Seabird diversity is very high, and endemism is second only to the South Pacific. A number 
of the seabirds are considered threatened and one, the Peruvian Diving Petrel, which breeds on islands 
off the coast of Peru and Chile, is considered Endangered. 

Cetacean diversity is high and includes two species not recorded elsewhere, although neither of these 
is definitely known to be threatened. There are no sirenians, but there is a high diversity of pinnipeds 
with two endemic fur seal species. One of these, the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal, from the islands of that 
name off the Chilean coast, was formerly considered extinct, having been virtually hunted out by 
sealing. It was rediscovered in 1965 and has recovered in numbers since then, although is still 
considered Vulnerable. The Marine Otter Lutra felina, an Endangered species which breeds along the 
coasts of Chile and Peru, is endemic to the region. 

FISHERIES 

The Southeast Pacific region includes the whole of FAO fisheries area 87 (Southeast Pacific) and a 
portion of fisheries area 77 (eastern central Pacific). The region has the second-largest fishery in the 
world, only the Northwest Pacific being larger. Around 80% of landings are of small pelagics within 
the Humboldt Current off Chile, Peru and Ecuador. Further north the region is characterised by a 
largely oligotrophic, tropical ecosystem. The most important fisheries are for shrimps inshore and for 
tuna and other large pelagic species offshore. Although small in volume, both these fisheries are of 
high value. There is also an area of nutrient-rich upwelling off the coast of Panama with a locally 
important stock of Central Pacific Anchoveta Cetengrauilis mysticetus. 

Catches of pelagics within the Humboldt Current have been reasonably constant at around 1 3 million 
tonnes per year since 1990 (although 1991-1992 catches showed a slight decline over 1989 and 1990). 
This is similar to the catch recorded in the early 1970s, although species composition has changed. 
During the early 1970s virtually the whole catch was of Peruvian anchoveta Engraulis ringens, making 
it by far the largest single species fishery ever recorded. Between 1970 and 1973 the catch collapsed, 
to around 2 million tonnes as the result of a major El Nino event. From 1973 to 1989, landings have 
shown an increasing trend, with some year to year fluctuation. However, species composition has 
changed markedly, chiefly by becoming more diverse with Chilean Horse Mackerel Trachurus 
symmetricus and Sardine Sardinops sagax at least as important as Anchoveta in recent years. Species 
composition remains unstable, however, with Sardines having decreased markedly in importance since 
the mid-1980s and Anchoveta once again becoming the single most important species. These stocks, 
and most others in the region, are currently considered fully exploited or overexploited. 

The pelagic fishery within the Humboldt Current LME is perhaps the best-known example of a fishery 
whose yields are dramatically affected by environmental variation on a decadal scale. It is unclear to 

103 



Southeast Pacific 

what extent fishing mortality has influenced the rate of recovery of the stocks and subsequent changes 
in species composition. As with the Benguela Current region in southwest Africa, this region is 
relatively little affected by freshwater runoff, so that coastal zone management is of less significance 
in the management of the fishery. Rather, multi-species stock assessments and modelling to take into 
account environmental variation, particularly El Nino events, will be of prime importance in the long- 
term running of the fishery. 

Further north, cooperation between states will be of increasing importance in the management of the 
highly migratory, and valuable, large pelagic species. The four coastal states in this region are 
members of the Permanent Commission for the Southeast Pacific (CPPS) which co-ordinates regional 
research activities in the area. 



104 




SOUTH PACIFIC 

American Samoa (to USA); Australia; Cook Islands 
(to New Zealand); Federated States of Micronesia; 
Fiji; French Polynesia; Guam (to USA); Hawaii and 
central Pacific US dependencies (to USA); Kiribati; 
Marshall Is; Nauru; New Caledonia (to France); New 
Zealand; Niue (to New Zealand); Northern Mariana 
Islands (to USA); Palau; Papua New Guinea; 
Pitcairn Islands (to UK); Solomon Islands; Tonga; 
Tuvalu; Vanuatu; Wallis and Futuna Islands (to 
France); Western Samoa 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

The South Pacific region is comprised of three LMEs: The Insular Pacific-Hawaiian complex, the 
Great Barrier Reef, and the New Zealand Shelf. Easter Island and Sala-y-G6mez (to Chile), in mid- 
Pacific, are biogeographically within this region, but politically related to the Southeast Pacific 
Regional Sea agreement. 

Insular Pacific-Hawaiian 

This complex includes many LMEs which are linked by the EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones) of the 
islands that they contain. The LME includes Hawaii, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Western 
Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and others. 
Their actual physical extent is defined by the areas of resource extraction associated with adjacent reef 
biotopes. The area is characterized by very warm surface waters that vary little in temperature over 
the year. The temperature on the southern boundary of the LME drops to only 22°C in the austral 
winter (south of New Caledonia) and remains above 24°C in the northern winter (north of the 
Marianas). Temperatures higher than 29°C are found over almost half the South Pacific region in each 
hemisphere during the respective summers. The main currents influencing this area are the North and 
South Equatorial Currents and the Equatorial Counter Current. The El Nino-Southern Oscillation has 
an important periodical effect on this region. 

Great Barrier Reef 

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest single reef system in the world. It extends for 2,000 km from the 
lowland tropics to temperate zones off the east coast of Australia, and occupies an area of 
approximately 350,000 km 2 . The inshore continental islands provide great habitat diversity. The 
circulation in the Great Barrier Reef is immensely complicated and is governed by the properties of 
the Coral Sea, land runoff, evaporation, the southeast trade winds, and forced upwellings owing to 
strong tidal currents in narrow reef passage and coastal waters. Sea surface temperatures vary from 15- 
26°C in winter to 26-30°C in the summer. 

New Zealand Shelf 

The continental shelf surrounding New Zealand is irregular. It varies greatly in width, with the 
northwest and southeast plateau sections extending as far as 3,000 km, while the narrow northeast and 
southwest sections drop off at about 1 50 km. The northern half of the LME is influenced by the warm 
South Equatorial Current and the southern half by the cooler West Wind Drift. These currents meet 

105 



South Pacific 

in a broad zone of convergence (the Subtropical Convergence) off the New Zealand coast marked by 
sudden changes of temperature and salinity. 



BIODIVERSITY 

South Pacific Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



% 



endemic 



seagrasses 


2 


19 


40 


sharks 


coral genera 





76 


70 


seabirds 


molluscs 


7 


984 


23 


cetaceans 


shrimps 





63 


18 


sirenians 


lobsters 


13 


42 


28 


pinnipeds 



35 


128 


37 


39 


115 


39 


1 


43 


49 





1 


25 


3 


8 


26 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % - species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



South Pacific Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



Scientifc name 



Common name status 



seagrasses 



Halophila hawaiiana 
Halophila tricostata 



molluscs 



Clypeolum granosum 


Granose Nerite 


Conus abbreviates 


Abbreviated Cone 


Conus cabritti 


Cabrit's Cone 


Mitra pellisserpentis 


Snake-tongue Mitre 


Natica zealandica 


New Zealand Moon 


Neocancilla arenaceae 


Orange Mitre 


Scabricola newcombii 


Newcomb's Mitre 


Arctides antipodarum 


Rough Spanish lobster 


Callianassa australiensis 


Australian ghost shrimp 


Ibacus brucei 


Glabrous fan lobster 


Jasus edwardsii 


Red rock lobster 


Jasus verreauxi 


Green rock lobster 


Metanephrops challengeri 


New Zealand lobster 


Palibythus magnificus 


Musical furry lobster 


Panulirus marginatus 


Banded spiny lobster 


Panulirus pascuensis 


Easter Island spiny lobster 


Parribacus caledonicus 


Caledonian mitten lobster 



lobsters 



106 



South Pacific 



Scientifc name 



Common name status 



lobsters (continued) 



Parribacus holthuisi 
Parribacus scarlatinus 
Thaumastochelopsis wardi 



Red-spotted mitten lobster 

Marbled mitten lobster 

Australian prince lobster 



sharks 



Apristurus sp. E 
Asymbolus analis 
Asymbolus sp. D 
Asymbolus sp. E 
Brachaelurus waddi 
Centroscymnus plunked 
Cephaloscyllium nascione 
Cephaloscyllium sp. B 
Cephaloscyllium sp. C 
Cephaloscyllium sp. D 
Etmopterus baxteri 
Etmopterus sp. D 
Etmopterus sp. F 
Etmopterus villosus 
Galeus sp. B 
Gogolia fdewoodi 
Gollum attenuatus 
Halaelurus dawsoni 
Hemitriakis sp. B 
Heterodontus galeatus 
Heteroscyllium colcloughi 
Iago garricki 
Mustelus lenticulatus 
Parascyllium collare 
Parascyllium ferrugineum 
Parascyllium multimaculatum 
Parmaturus sp. A 
Pristiophorus sp. A 
Pristiophorus sp. B 
Scymnodalatias sherwoodi 
Squalus melanurus 
Squalus rancureli 
Squalus sp. A 
Squalus sp. B 
Squalus sp. F 



Plunket shark 
Whitefinned swellshark 



New Zealand lanternshark 



Hawaiian lanternshark 

Sailback houndshark 
Slender smoothhound 
New Zealand catshark 

Crested bullhead shark 

Bluegray carpetshark 

Longnose houndshark 

Spotted estuary smooth-hound 

Collared carpetshark 

Rusty carpetshark 

Tasmanian carpetshark 



Sherwood dogfish 

Blacktailed spurdog 

Cyrano spurdog 



seabirds 



Chlidonias albostriatus 
Diomedea bulled 
Diomedea cauta 
Diomedea epomophora 
Eudyptes pachyrychus 
Eudyptes robustus 
Eudyptes sclateri 



Black-fronted tern 


VU 


Buller's albatross 




Shy albatross 




Royal albatross 




Fiordland penguin 


VU 


Snares penguin 


VU 


Erect-crested penguin 


VU 



107 



South Pacific 



Scientifc name 



Common name status 



seabirds (continued) 



Gygis microrhynca 


Little white-tern 




Larus bulleri 


Black-billed gull 




Megadyptes antipodes 


Yellow-eyed penguin 


VU 


Nesofregetta fuliginosa 


Polynesian storm-petrel 




Phalacrocorax campbelli 


Campbell shag 


VU 


Phalacrocorax carunculatus 


Rough-faced shag 


VU 


Phalacrocorax chalconotus 


Bronze shag 


VU 


Phalacrocorax colensoi 


Auckland Island shag 


VU 


Phalacrocorax featherstoni 


Pitt shag 


VU 


Phalacrocorax onslowi 


Chatham shag 


VU 


Phalacrocorax punctatus 


Spotted shag 




Phalocrocorax ranfurlyi 


Bounty shag 


VU 


Procellaria parkinsoni 


Black petrel 


VU 


Procellaria westlandica 


Westland petrel 


VU 


Procelsterna albivitta 


Grey noddy 




Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi 


Fiji petrel 


CR 


Pterodroma alba 


Phoenix petrel 




Pterodroma axillaris 


Chatham petrel 


CR 


Pterodroma brevipes 


Collared petrel 




Pterodroma cookii 


Cook's petrel 


VU 


Pterodroma inexpectata 


Mottled petrel 




Pterodroma leucoptera 


Gould's petrel 




Pterodroma magentae 


Magenta petrel 


CR 


Pterodroma nigripennis 


Black-winged petrel 




Pterodroma pycrofti 


Pycroft's petrel 


VU 


Pterodroma solandri 


Providence petrel 


VU 


Pterodroma ultima 


Murphy's petrel 




Puffinus bulleri 


Buller's shearwater 




Puffinus gavia 


Fluttering shearwater 




Puffinus huttoni 


Hutton's shearwater 




Puffinus newelli 


Newell's shearwater 


EN 


Sterna lunata 


Grey-backed tern 


VU 



cetaceans 



Cephaloryhnchus hectori 



Hector's dolphin VU 



pinnipeds 



Arctocephalus forsteri 
Monachus schauinslandi 
Phocarctos hookeri 



New Zealand fur seal EN 

Hawaiian monk seal EN 

Hooker's sea lion VU 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar et al. (1994); all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). 



108 



South Pacific 
Biodiversity Notes 

Recorded seagrass richness is the highest in the world, despite there being only two endemic species. 
The region is second only to the adjacent East Asian Seas in hermatypic coral diversity, although has 
no genera endemic to it. Similarly, the region is second only to the East Asian Seas area in apparent 
species richness of molluscs, and lobsters; endemism in both groups is highest of all regions. Shrimp 
diversity is also high, but with no recorded endemism in the groups surveyed. 

High diversity, and regional endemism, is also shown by sharks and, particularly, by seabirds. More 
than twice as many seabird species are recorded here than in any other region; the region also has the 
highest number of endemic and threatened seabirds. Six of the world's seven marine turtle species 
nest in the region, the exception being Kemp's Ridley Lepidochelys kempii which is confined to the 
Caribbean. Breeding populations of Green Turtle Chelonia mydas (New Caledonian islands) and 
Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata (Solomon Islands) are of global significance. Leatherback 
Dermochelys coriacea numbers in Papua New Guinea are also important. 

Cetacean diversity is high, although only one species is apparently confined to the region; the only 
sirenian present is the Dugong Dugong dugon, and pinniped diversity is moderate. Two species, the 
Hawaiian monk seal Monachus schauinslandi (Endangered) and Hooker's sea lion Phocarctos hookeri 
are confined to the region. 



FISHERIES 

The region includes western parts of FAO Statistical Area 81 (Southwest Pacific), a large part of Area 
71 (West-central Pacific) and southwestern parts of Area 77 (East-central Pacific). This region is 
characterised by a very small land area, including a large number of small island states, in relation to 
a very large total EEZ area. 

The recorded catch in this region is moderate in global terms, but local use of fish resources, 
particularly reef fishes and other nearshore and inshore stocks, is extremely important socially and 
economically in the small island states of the region. In addition there are globally significant stocks 
of highly valuable pelagic tunas; these account for a substantial portion of recorded landings in the 
region. 

Most coastal shrimp stocks on the continental shelf around northern Australia are fully exploited; over- 
capitalisation is an important factor. A compulsory vessel reduction scheme may now be having an 
effect, but has been countered by a great increase in fishing power, mainly from GPS. Landing from 
trawl fisheries in southeast Australia remain reasonably stable. Tune cathches are regulated under the 
tripartite agreement between Australia, New Zealand and Japan. 

In Area 81, Hoki (or Blue Grenadier) Macruronus noveazealandiae is the main species landed by New 
Zealand, almost entirely for export (the value of fish exports from New Zealand currently exceeds that 
of wool exports). Stocks appear to be in good condition after a number of strong year classes, but 
quotas remain conservative. Incidental mortality to Hooker's Sea Lion and seabirds, such as albatross, 
has been reduced as a result of changes to fishery practice and gears. 

Management of Orange Roughy Hoplostethus atlanticus has been subject to considerable disagreement; 
many believe current harvest levels of this very long-lived species (potentially in excess of 100 years) 
are unsustainable and that reduced quotas are needed. Rock Lobster Jasus edwardsii stocks are under 

109 



South Pacific 

pressure, also with disagreement on quota levels. Recruitment to the stock appears to be related to El 
Nino events. Market demand remains strong, but squid landings have been depressed as a result of low 
prices. 

New Zealand has put much emphasis on the Individual Transfer Quotas (ITQ) management system. 
This was being expanded from 160 species to cover all significant stocks in 1992. Recently ITQ has 
been changed from a fixed tonnage to a proportion of a variable overall Total Allowable Catch (TAC). 
Quotas are currently set on the east coast of Australia. Bluefin Tuna stocks are strictly managed under 
tripartite agreement between Australia, Japan and New Zealand (see Southwest Australia account). 

Tuna (especially Skipjack and Yellowfin) are foremost among fishery species in the Pacific Islands 
making up large parts of FAO areas 71 and 77. Tuna are most abundant off Papua New Guinea, the 
Solomon Islands and Kiribati. Much exploitation is by foreign vessels which pay access rights to fish 
local EEZs; these fees have been negotiated by the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) based 
in the Solomons. FFA members in the region have strongly encouraged use of local ports for trans- 
shipment purposes, and this adds to the revenue generated. Domestic fisheries are increasingly 
targeting tuna stocks in the region. 

Owing to their dispersed nature and the fact that much of the fishing is for subsistence purposes, reef- 
associated fisheries are very difficult to monitor. Island fishers are making increasing use of Fish 
Aggregating Devices (FADs) to enhance catches, where these had previously been used for offshore 
by non-local vessels. 

Inshore resources, mostly based on reef systems, have received relatively little research and money 
attention in relation to tuna, but although the monetary benefits from these resources tend to be low 
they are often of very great subsistence value locally. 

Around half of nearshore landings for both commercial and subsistence purposes are made up of reef 
finfish. A minor proportion is for the aquarium trade. Some stocks are known to be depleted, eg. reef 
and lagoon fishes in Palau and Kiribati; bone fish, milkfish and parrotfish off the Cook Islands; large 
serranids and lutjanids in Fiji; reef and small pelagic fishes in Western Samoa. 

Invertebrates make up a very significant part of the catch: sea cucumbers, sea urchins, giant clams, 
pearl oysters, sea snails, cephalopods and spiny lobster. Markets for some of these species have existed 
for centuries. Sharks are an important resource for subsistence fishers both as a food source and dried 
fins for sale. 

Few countries in the region have formulated fisheries management plans. Data collection by the 
Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre (SEAFDC) has had limited success for stock 
assessment purposes although unfortunately does not play a major role in management decision. 



110 



SOUTHWEST AUSTRALIA 

This marine region is not within an existing Regional 
Seas area and has been defined here for the purposes of 
this document. It consists of the Australian coastline that 
does not fall within an established Regional Seas area; 
extending from Shark Bay in Western Australia south to 
the border of Southern Australia and New South Wales. 



The region has no defined Large Marine Ecosystem 

within it. It is influenced by the Southern Ocean Current. 

The continental shelf is narrow, the shelf edge being as close as 35 km from shore. The western 

section of this urea covers a latitudinal transition from the tropical to the warm temperate climatic 

zones, whilst the southern section lies entirely within the temperate climatic zone. 




BIODIVERSITY 

Southwest Australia Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



% 



endemic 



% 



seagrasscs 


5 


17 


35 


sharks 


coral gencru 





62 


57 


seabirds 


molluscs 





197 


5 


cetaceans 


shrimps 





15 


4 


sirenians 


lobsters 


1 


10 


7 


pinnipeds 



7 


64 


18 





22 


8 





36 


41 





1 


25 


1 


6 


18 



Notes: the d.n.i relet in vpccics except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region: T = total 
species richnc*> it Uk region: % - species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organiMi! \ dj\h l) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further mlnnii.ilion on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



Southwest Australia Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



seagrasseN 



Amphibolis griffithii 
Posidonia angustifolia 
Posidonia ostenfeldii 
Posidonia sinuosa 
Thalassodendron pachyrhizum 



lobsters 



Panulirus cygnus 



Australian spiny lobster 



111 



Southwest Australia 



scientific name 



common name status 



sharks 



Apristurus sp. F 
Asymbolus sp. B 
Asymbolus sp. C 
Asymbolus sp. F 
Aulohalaelurus labiosus 
Parascyllium sp. A 
Sutorectus tentaculatus 



Cobbler wobbegong 



pinnipeds 



Neophoca cinerea 



Australian sea lion 



Biodiversity Notes 

Seagrass richness is very high, second only to the South Pacific. The region also has a remarkable 
number of endemic seagrass species. The region has very high hermatypic coral diversity, although 
no recorded endemic genera. There is apparently low diversity among molluscs, shrimp and lobsters, 
with a single endemic in the last group. 

Recorded shark diversity is moderate to high. Amongst sea turtles there is significant nesting of 
Green Turtle Chelonia mydas. Loggerhead Caretta caretta and Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata. No 
other sea turtle species is known to nest. Seabird diversity is fairly low. Average numbers of cetacean 
species have been recorded and one species of sirenian, the Dugong Dugong dugon, for which Shark 
Bay is a very important refuge. Pinniped diversity is surprisingly high, with one species confined to 
the region. 



FISHERIES 

The seas around Southwest Australia comprise part of the southern region of FAO statistical area 57 
(Eastern Indian Ocean). 

The annual recorded landings for all of area 57 totalled 3.3 million tonnes in 1992 of which Australia 
accounts for a maximum of 15%. Landings are mostly from pelagic species, the largest catches coming 
from elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) and clupeoids. Most landings have increased since the 1970s 
except catches of Southern Bluefin Tuna Thunnus maccoyii which have fallen 16,000 tonnes since 
1985. 

Australian scallop landings in the southern sector of area 57 have increased twelve fold between 1990 
and 1992 to around 72,000 tonnes, which amounts to almost 20% of the overall increase in 
invertebrate landings by all countries in the area. Other mollusc landings include catches of abalones, 
yielding 6,000 tonnes, and mussels and oysters, yielding 13,000 tonnes in 1990. 

The Western Australian rock lobster fishery makes a significant contribution to the total Australian 
catch for this region and is the highest value single-species fishery in the country. Lobster catches 
increased in 1990 producing landings of 19,000 tonnes. The rock lobster catch consisted of two 
species; the Western Rock Lobster {Panulirus cygnus) and the Southern Rock Lobster (Jasus 
edwardsii). 



112 



Southwest Australia 

The Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), a regional initiative 
involving Japan, Australia and New Zealand was agreed in 1993. The aim of the CCSBT is to 
conserve stocks and optimise use of Southern Bluefin Tuna. The Commission for the CCSBT first met 
in May 1994. The stock remains severely depleted but it is believed that catch limits made in 1988 
and 1989 will shortly reverse this decline, and the Commission agreed to maintain the 1994/95 global 
quota limit of 11,750 tonnes. 

Both lobster species targeted in Australia have been subject to a management plan for a considerable 
time. The objective is to constrain fishing effort so that catches are maintained at a sustainable yield 
of between 8,000- 1 2,000 tonnes annually. Fishing power has increased through growing use of Global 
Positioning Systems (GPS) and other electronic aids. 



113 



ANTARCTICA 

This marine region is not within an existing Regional Seas area and has been defined here for the 
purposes of this document. 



LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

There is only one LME defined within the Antarctic proper. 
Antarctic 

The Antarctic LME is described as the marine area south of the Antarctic Convergence, a natural 
oceanographic boundary where the cold waters of the Antarctic continent meet the warmer sub- 
Antarctic waters situated between 48°S and 60°S. 

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is the primary way by which water is exchanged between 
ocean basins. It therefore plays an essential role in the global thermohaline circulation, including 
redistribution of heat and salinity. After the Antarctic Convergence, the second major oceanographic 
feature is the Antarctic Divergence, close to the Antarctic continent at 65 °S. This is associated with 
deeper water flowing southward and gradually rising, reaching the surface at the Divergence. This 
upwelling results in a great abundance of nutrients in the surface layer, and this is the basis for great 
phytoplankton growth during the southern spring and summer. 

The Southern Ocean is circumpolar and a source of intermediate and deep water masses moving into 
the world ocean. One of the deepest water masses is the Antarctic Bottom Water. This is formed 
during the austral winter as a result of the sea water freezing. This process generates highly saline, 
dense, cold water that sinks and spreads northward (having been detected as far north as the North 
Atlantic). The formation and sinking of water masses results in a significant exchange in heat, 
freshwater, and gases, such as carbon dioxide, between the oceans and the atmosphere. 

The continental shelf of the Antarctic is abnormally deep, with the continental shelf edge averaging 
460 m deep, compared with an average 200 m depth for other continents. Two shelf patterns can be 
distinguished: facing the ocean, and the shelf around major embayments (such as the Ross Sea, 
Weddell Sea and Prydz Bay). The former are generally narrow, usually around 150 km; the latter are 
typically covered to a significant extent with permanent ice shelves. 

Sea surface temperatures vary in the Antarctic. South of the Antarctic Divergence, water temperatures 
in summer reach 0°C, but during winter they are at minus 1.8°C, the freezing point for sea water. 
Between the Divergence and the Convergence, the temperature increases northwards to 4-5°C at the 
Convergence. 



BIODIVERSITY 

The tables below include sub-Antarctic islands administered by Australia, France, South Africa, 
Norway, and the UK. 



115 



Antarctica 

Antarctic Regional Sea: biodiversity data 



endemic 



% 



endemic 



% 



seagrasses 
coral genera 
molluscs 
shrimps* 
lobsters 






- 


sharks 





- 


seabirds 


7 





cetaceans 





- 


sirenians 


3 


2 


pinnipeds 



- 





- 


4 


51 


17 


1 


13 


15 


- 





- 


5 


7 


23 



Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region: % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. * Does not include krill (pelagic shrimp-like 
crustaceans in the order Euphausiacea), a group of special importance in Antarctic waters. See Notes and Sources in 
the introductory text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



Antarctic Regional Sea: regional endemic species 



scientific name 



common name status 



seabirds 



Aptenodytes forsteri 
Catharacta maccormicki 
Chionis alba 
Chionis minor 
Eudyptes schlegeli 
Fulmarus glacialoides 
Pachyptila salvini 
Pagodroma nivea 
Phalacrocorax bransfieldensis 
Phalacrocorax georgianus 
Pygoscelis adeliae 
Pygoscelis antarctica 
Sterna virgata 
Thalassoica antarctica 



Emperor penguin 

South polar skua 

Snowy sheathbill 

Lesser sheathbill 

Royal penguin 

Southern fulmar 

Medium-billed prion 

Lesser snow-petrel 

Antarctic shag 

South Georgia shag 

Adelie penguin 

Chinstrap penguin 

Kerguelen tern 

Antarctic petrel 



VU 



cetaceans 



Lagenorhynchus cruciger 



Hourglass dolphin 



pinnipeds 



Arctocephalus gazella 
Hydrurga leptonyx 
Leptonychotes weddellii 
Lobodon carcinophagus 
Ommatophoca rossii 



Antarctic fur seal 

Leopard seal 

Weddell seal 

Crabeater seal 

Ross seal 



Notes: letters in the 'status' column indicate the conservation status of species that have been assessed and classified 
as threatened. In the revised IUCN Red List category system the term 'threatened' refers only to species in any of the 
following three categories: CR - Critically Endangered, EN - Endangered, VU - Vulnerable. Seabirds have been 
assessed by BirdLife International, Collar et al. (1994): all status categories are recorded in IUCN (1996). 



116 



Antarctica 
Biodiversity Notes 

There are no hermatypic corals, seagrasses, marine turtles or sirenians in the Antarctic. Diversity 
in molluscs and lobsters is very low, and an absence of shrimp (in the sense used here; see Notes 
and Sources).There is an absence of information on sharks. Recorded cetacean diversity is low, but 
seabird and pinniped diversity is high. 

FISHERIES 

The Antarctic region comprises the whole of FAO Statistical Areas 48 (Southern Atlantic), 58 
(Southern Indian Ocean) and 88 (Southern Pacific). 

Fisheries in the Antarctic, entirely carried out by distant water fleets, have declined recently from 
around 400,000-500,000 tonnes annually from 1985-1990 to just over 90,000 tonnes in the 1992/1993 
fishing season. The decline was attributed to a large decrease in fishing effort by distant water Russian 
and Ukrainian fleets. The major stock, and the major fishery, in the Antarctic region is krill, which 
comprised around 90% of the total catch by weight for the period 1989-90. Most of the catch is taken 
from around the islands of South Orkney and South Georgia in the Atlantic Sector. 

Major catches of finfishes consist of lanternfishes (Myctophidae), mackerel icefish Chamsocephalus 
gunnari and Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides. In the 1992/1993 season the only catches 
recorded south of 60°S were of the Patagonian toothfish, with a catch of just under 6000 tonnes. 

Atlantic fisheries south of 60°S are managed by the Convention for Conservation of Antarctic Marine 
Living Resources (CCAMLR). CCAMLR is highly unusual amongst international regulatory bodies 
in that it has a statutory obligation to take into consideration ecosystem interactions in the management 
of marine resources. Thus, ecological relationships must be maintained between harvested resources 
and other species which are dependent on those resources; depleted populations must be managed to 
restore them to a level at which the greatest net annual biomass increment occurs. Any risk of changes 
that are not potentially reversible over two or three decades must be minimized. 

To meet these objectives, precautionary approaches to fisheries management are adopted which may 
serve as models for management elsewhere. Because of these precautionary approaches, and because 
the annual net production of krill is believed to be low compared with its biomass, potential yields are 
much lower than might be thought from the very high biomass estimates (eg. around 30 million tonnes 
estimated in the Southern Atlantic). Similarly, finfish resources are limited and have too small a yield 
to sustain a high fishery. This is evinced by the past history of fisheries in the Southern Oceans, which 
is one of continual shifting from one overfished stock to another less exploited one. 

Issues of concern at present include the by-catch of juvenile icefish and other species taken in the krill 
fishery and the regulation of fishing of straddling stocks (eg. of Patagonian toothfish) part of which 
lie immediately outside the region regulated by CCAMLR. There is currently no effective fisheries 
management policy for these stocks outside the CCAMLR area. 



117 



ARCTIC 

Canada; Finland; Greenland (to Denmark); Norway; Russia; USA 

This marine region is not within an existing Regional Seas area and has been defined here for the 
purposes of this document. 

LARGE MARINE ECOSYSTEMS 

There are two LMEs within the Arctic region: the Barents Sea LME and the Arctic Ocean LME 

Barents Sea 

This area is located between 70° and 80°N on the North European Continental Shelf. The Barents Sea 
is shallow and stretches from the northernmost parts of Norway and continental Russia to Svalbard 
and Novaya Zemlya. The southern part is dominated by the Atlantic Current and this keeps the 
Norwegian coast free of ice throughout the year. The Barents Sea is a high-latitude transition zone 
where the relatively warm, inflowing Atlantic water is cooled and transformed into cold Arctic water. 
The southerly outflow of cold water through the Fram Strait is the major source of deep ocean water 
in the Atlantic. During the winter approximately two thirds of the sea surface is covered with ice and 
in spring an ice-edge phytoplankton bloom occurs in response to the melting ice. 

Arctic Ocean 

The Arctic Ocean is semi-enclosed and major water inflow and outflow takes place through the 
Greenland Sea. Roughly 80% of the water entering and leaving the Arctic basin passes through this 
narrow channel between Greenland and Svalbard into the Atlantic and less than 20% passes through 
the shallow Bering Sea into the Pacific. The surface water circulation forms two systems: a broad 
clockwise gyre in the Canadian region and a more direct flow sweeping in an arc over the shallower 
relief of the Asian region. 

For much of the year the Arctic Ocean is entirely covered by ice, which may reach a thickness of up 
to 2 metres. The ice is continually broken by the opening and closing of water channels. Large 
icebergs, formed from the glaciers of Canada and Greenland, are carried south by currents into the 
North Atlantic Ocean. Ice cover recedes from the edges of the continents in the summer and massive 
inflows of freshwater from the melting ice and rivers result in localized areas of reduced salinity. 

The Arctic Ocean although small in comparison to other oceans has a complex and varied seabed 
topography. The basin is divided by three major submarine ridges: the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge, the 
Lomonosov Ridge, and the Alpha Ridge. The Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge is an active seafloor spreading 
centre and part of the global system of major spreading ridges. It is separated by the Pole Abyssal 
Plain from the Lomonosov Ridge, a chain of submarine mountains. The Lomonosov Ridge dominates 
the Arctic basin, rising on average 3,000 m above the abyssal plain and reaching within 900 m of the 
surface at its highest points. On the Canadian side of the Lomonosov Ridge the ocean basin is divided 
by the Alpha Ridge, an irregular submarine mountain chain. Between the Alpha Ridge and the 
Canadian coast lies the Canada Abyssal Plain, the largest of the Arctic sub-basins, with an average 
depth of more than 3,600 metres. 

The continental shelf of the Arctic is the largest in the world and underlies almost one-third of the 
total ocean area. Off the northern coastlines of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, the shelf is 80-200 km 



119 



A rctic 



seagrasses 





1 


2 


sharks 


coral genera 


- 





- 


seabirds 


molluscs 





44 


1 


cetaceans 


shrimps 





9 


3 


sirenians 


lobsters 


- 





- 


pinnipeds 



wide but off the coast of northern Asia the shelf extends more than 1,600 km at its widest and 
nowhere is less than 480 km wide. This vast shelf area is subdivided by island groups and peninsulas 
into a number of interconnected shallow seas, the largest of which are the Chukchi, East Siberian and 
Laptev seas. 



BIODIVERSITY 

Arctic Regional Sea: biodiversity data 

endemic T % endemic T % 

5 1 

27 9 

14 19 



9 26 

Notes: the data refer to species except for coral genera. Column headings: endemic = restricted to the region; T = total 
species richness in the region; % = species richness in the region as a percentage of the world species richness in each 
group of organism. A dash (-) in a cell means no data or not applicable. See Notes and Sources in the introductory 
text for further information on the sources, coverage and quality of the data tabulated. 



Biodiversity Notes 

There are no corals in the Arctic, and only one seagrass species has been recorded. Very few 
molluscs or shrimp are present, and no lobsters. Recorded shark diversity is very low. Sea turtles 
are absent. Neither seabird nor cetacean diversity is high. 

Interestingly, cetacean diversity is very similar to that in the Antarctic (where thirteen species are 
recorded) although many of the species involved are different. Pinniped diversity is also similar to 
the Antarctic, although no Arctic pinnipeds are strictly confined to Arctic waters. There are no 
sirenians. The Polar Bear Ursus maritimus is largely restricted to the Arctic Ocean but also extends 
into the northern parts of the Atlantic (see North Atlantic Region) and Pacific (see Northeast Pacific 
and Northwest Pacific Regions). 



FISHERIES 

The FAO does not report catch or landing data for the Arctic Sea (statistical area 18). Arctic waters 
in this area are ice-covered for most of the year and do not support large-scale commercial fisheries. 
Arctic water affected by the gulf stream are included in Area 27 (Northeast Atlantic); see discussion 
under North Atlantic Region. 



120 



ANNEX I. The role of UNEP in Conservation of Marine Biodiversity 

The overall coordination of UNEP's programme for the management and conservation of marine 
biodiversity has been a responsibility of the Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme Activity Centre 
(OCA/PAC). The Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme was action-oriented and focused not only on 
mitigation but also on the causes of environmental degradation. It was created as a global programme 
that is implemented through regional components as represented by the Regional Seas Programmes. 
Changes to the Programme Division of UNEP during 1996 have resulted in formation of a Water Unit 
that combines the functions of OCA/PAC and the freshwater section. 

The Regional Seas Programme 

The Regional Seas Programme was launched by UNEP in 1974. At present it includes twelve regional 
action plans and has over 140 coastal States participating in it. 

The regions presently covered are: Mediterranean; West and Central Africa; Caribbean; East Asia; 
Eastern Africa; South Asia; Black Sea; North-west Pacific; Kuwait; South-east Pacific; Red Sea and 
Gulf of Aden; South Pacific. Action plans have been prepared for all regions except the Black Sea and 
North-west Pacific where they are under development. 

The Water Unit provides the secretariat functions for all regional seas action plans except the Kuwait 
Action Plan, South-east Pacific Action Plan, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Action Plan and South Pacific 
Action Plan. 

The activities in each programme are wide in nature and are carried out in cooperation with many 
partners including UN agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The focus of 
the oceans and coastal activities within the Water Unit are both regional and inter- regional, as follows: 

(a) Integrated Coastal Area Management, as a framework within which coastal and marine 
areas should be managed. Current and planned activities within this focal area include: the 
development of tools and guidelines, and national strategies and plans; the conduct of regional 
and national training programmes and workshops; and the implementation of pilot projects in 
integrated management. The 1996/97 UNEP Work Programme will specifically promote 
cooperation and integration in the management of coastal and marine areas and associated 
river basins, and the special needs of small island developing States. 

(b) Protection of the marine environment from land-based activities. Current and planned 
activities within this focal area include: the development of national and regional strategic 
programmes which include river basin management; capacity building for governments and 
national environmental authorities in the prevention and control of coastal degradation; and 
the assessment of pollutant loads and establishment of monitoring programmes for the 
protection of the marine environment. The 1996/97 UNEP Work Programme will specifically 
promote implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine 
Environment from Land-Based Activities. The special needs of small island developing States 
will be specifically addressed. 

(c) Protection and management of marine living resources. Many of the activities that are 
undertaken under this focal area are directly related to the management and conservation of 
marine biodiversity and are an integral part of UNEP's contribution to the implementation of 
the Convention on Biological Diversity. Recognizing FAO's role and mandate, UNEP has 
concentrated on species and ecosystems not commercially exploited. The 1996/97 UNEP Work 
Programme will specifically promote implementation of Regional Seas Protocols on Specially 

121 



Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), International Coral Reef Initiative and Marine Mammal 
Action Plan. Current and planned activities within this focal area are detailed below. 

Regional Seas Protocols on Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) 

The Regional Seas Protocols concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) have been 
adopted by the parties to four Regional Seas Conventions (Mediterranean, Caribbean, South-East 
Pacific and East Africa). In each region the Protocol differs and may or not contain listing of species 
included in the Protocol. In addition, as a consequence of the adoption of the Protocols specific Action 
Plans or Programmes have been formulated and institutional frameworks developed in the form of 
Regional Activities Centres. In 1993, governments in the Wider Caribbean region recognized and 
agreed that the SPAW Protocol is an appropriate mechanism to assist with the implementation of the 
Convention on Biological Diversity in relation to the marine environment. 

A Regional Activity Centre (RAC/SPA) has been established in Tunis in 1985 to oversee the 
implementation of the Protocol in the Mediterranean and a similar RAC is in the final planning stages 
for the Caribbean. The long term objective of the Tunis RAC/SPA is to "help promote the 
development of a network of Mediterranean marine and coastal protected areas through the 
implementation of the Protocol concerning Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas... and to help 
promote the protection of endangered species and the conservation of biological diversity in the 
Mediterranean through the implementation of the Protocol and adopted Action Plans...". The 
development of these programmes are at different stages in each region and how they are structured 
and function differ in accordance with the needs of governments of the region. 

The programme in the Caribbean includes the development of common guidelines for identification, 
establishment and management of coastal and marine protected areas and implementation of 
management plans for endangered species such as marine mammals and sea turtles, with ecotourism 
guidelines. Marine pollution programmes are also promoting conservation of biodiversity through 
assessment of the effect of pollutants, such as in site-specific studies of damaged ecosystems (sea grass 
beds and coral reefs). In the Mediterranean, additional protected areas of biological and environmental 
interest were established and the number of sites increased from 74, mentioned in the Directory of 
Specially Protected Areas in the Mediterranean, to 1 28 sites. In the South-east Pacific, the preparation 
of National Marine Biodiversity studies in order to identify marine ecosystems with high levels of 
biodiversity is being planned as the basis for the creation of new marine protected areas. 

International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) 

In recognition of the importance of coral reefs and associated ecosystems to the sustainable 
development and well-being of human populations worldwide, particularly coastal communities, and 
their significance to global marine biodiversity, UNEP is giving priority assistance to the 
implementation of ICRI now and in the 1996/97 Work Programme. UNEP is giving support to six 
regional workshops corresponding to the Caribbean, East Asia, Red Sea/Middle East, South Asia, 
South Pacific and Western Indian Ocean/Eastern African regions. A goal of each workshop is to 
develop a regional policy framework and programme of action for the protection and management of 
coral reefs and associated ecosystems (ie. mangrove forests and seagrass beds), including a strategy 
for its implementation which would be adopted by governments of the region. 

Other current or planned activities in support of the ICRI include: (a) national and regional reviews 
of the status and threats to coastal ecosystems; (b) development and regional agreement on 
methodologies for the rapid assessment of coral reefs for the management of coastal ecosystems; (c) 
development of a global framework for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of coral reefs 
and associated ecosystems; and (d) support to the International Coral Reef Symposium. 

122 



Marine Mammal Action Plan (MMAP) 

The MMAP was developed between 1978 and 1983 jointly by UNEP and FAO, in collaboration with 
other international organizations concerned with marine mammal issues, and was adopted by UNEP 
in 1984. The basic objective of the plan is to promote the effective implementation of a policy for 
conservation, management and utilization of marine mammals which would be widely accepted by 
governments and the public. The MMAP is built around five concentration areas, namely, policy 
formulation, regulatory and protective measures, improvement of scientific knowledge, improvement 
of law and its application and enhancement of public understanding. As envisaged by the Plan, major 
international agencies concerned with marine mammals were invited to join in a Planning and Co- 
ordinating Committee (PCC), composed of both intergovernmental (UNEP, FAO, IOC/UNESCO and 
IATTC) and nongovernmental organizations (IUCN, WWF, Greenpeace and IFAW) through which 
they co-ordinate their work in this field. UNEP has assigned a Secretary to the Action Plan since 1985. 

The 1996/97 work programme include the completion and adoption of a re-focused updated Action 
Plan to deal with new issues of importance since the MMAP was formulated. It will also include 
training courses and workshops on biology and survey methodologies, publication of awareness 
materials and field projects on the status of several marine mammal species. 

Other activities relevant to marine biodiversity: 

UNEP is also engaged in a wide range of other activities which have bearing on the maintenance of 
marine diversity including: 

(a) Developing guidelines for Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM). 

(b) Developing guidelines for the selection, establishment and management of Coastal and Marine 
Specially Protected Areas. 

(c) Assisting in the establishment of regional management plans for threatened species (sea turtles 
and/or marine mammals) in the Wider Caribbean, South-East Pacific, and Mediterranean. 

(d) Developing methodologies for assessment of the biological effects of marine pollution, and 
providing guidelines and manuals on quality assurance, quality control and good laboratory 
practices. 

(e) Fostering assessment in the Wider Caribbean of the effect of pollutants, such as in site-specific 
studies of damaged ecosystems, ie. sea grass beds and coral reefs. 

(f) Preparing monographs on coastal and marine protected areas of the South-East Pacific with 
FAO funding. 

(g) Elaboration of national marine biodiversity studies in order to identify marine ecosystems of 
high biodiversity are also under way in the South-East Pacific. 



123 



ANNEX II. FAO Fishery Areas 



FAO 

Code 



FAO designation 



Designation used in this report 



Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas 



18 Arctic Sea 

21 Atlantic, Northwest 

27 Atlantic, Northeast 

31 Atlantic, Western Central 

34 Atlantic, Eastern Central 

37 Mediterranean and Black Sea 

41 Atlantic, Southwest 

47 Atlantic, Southeast 



Northwest Atlantic 
Northeast Atlantic 
Western Central Atlantic 
Eastern Central Atlantic 
Mediterranean, Black Sea 
Southwest Atlantic 
Southeast Atlantic 



Indian Ocean and adjacent seas 

51 Indian Ocean, Western 

57 Indian Ocean, Eastern 



Western Indian Ocean 
Eastern Indian Ocean 



Pacific Ocean and adjacent seas 

61 Pacific, Northwest 

67 Pacific, Northeast 

71 Pacific, Western Central 

77 Pacific, Eastern Central 

81 Pacific, Southwest 

87 Pacific, Southeast 

Southern ocean and adjacent seas 

48 Atlantic, Antarctic 

58 Indian Ocean, Antarctic 

88 Pacific, Antarctic 



Northwest Pacific 
Northeast Pacific 
Western Central Pacific 
Eastern Central Pacific 
Southwest Pacific 
Southeast Pacific 



Antarctic 
Antarctic 
Antarctic 



125 



ANNEX III. Acronyms 

AAAS American Association for the Advancement of Sciences 

ACC Antarctic Circumpolar Current 

CAFSAC Canadian Atlantic Fisheries Scientific Advisory Committee 

CBD Convention on Biological Diversity 

CBDMS Committee on Biological Diversity in Marine Systems 

CCSBT Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna 

CCAMLR Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources 

CPPS Permanent Commission for the Southeast Pacific 

EEZ Exclusive Economic Zone 

ERS Environment Assessment Programme 

FAO Food and Agriculture Organisation 

GEF Global Environment Facility 

GIS Geographical Information System 

IATTC Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission 

ICAM Integrated Coastal Area Management 

ICES International Council for the Exploration of the Sea 

ICRI International Coral Reef Initiative 

ICSEAF International Commission for the Southeast Atlantic Fisheries 

IFAW International Federation Against Whaling 

INFOTERRA International Environment Information System 

IOC Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission 

IRPTC International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals 

LME Large Marine Ecosystem 

MBAL Mimimum Biologically Acceptable Level 

MMAP Marine Mammal Action Plan 

MPA Marine Protected Area 

MSVPA MultiSpecies Virtual Population Analysis 

NASCO North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation 

NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

NRC National Research Council 

NSQSR North Sea Quality Status Report 

PCC Planning and Co-ordinating Committee 

RAC/SPA Regional Activity Centre/Specially Protected Areas 

SAP Strategic Action Programme 

SBSTTA Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice 

SEAFDC SouthEast Asia Fisheries Development Centre 

SPAW Specially Protected Areas of Wildlife 

TAC Total Allowable Catch 

TRAFFIC Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce 

UN United Nations 

UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment and Development 

UNCLOS United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea 

UNEP United Nations Environment Program 

UNESCO United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation 

WCMC World Conservation Monitoring Centre 

WWF World Wide Fund for Nature 



127 



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132 




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Oceans cover more than 70% of the world's surface; their entire volume 
of some 1370 million cubic kilometres is capable of supporting life, and 
so the marine sector of the biosphere is far larger than the terrestrial 
sector. Reflecting the antiquity of life in the seas, marine life includes a 
wider range of basic kinds of animal organisation (phyla) than terrestrial 
environments. Marine biodiversity is of immense importance to human 
life, most evidently in the form of fisheries, but also for its ecological and 
recreational role. Despite this, information on the status of marine living 
resources and ecosystems is generally sparse. The clear need to 
improve our current state of knowledge has been given explicit 
emphasis by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. This 
report adopts a regional framework, based on the UNEP Regional Seas 
programme, to integrate and analyse information on marine 
ecosystems, fisheries and biological diversity. It will contribute 
significantly to the information base needed for more effective planning, 
research and management in the marine environment. 



B 



The WCMC Biodiversity Series presents the results of projects carried 
out by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, often in partnership 
with IUCN, WWF, UNEP or other organisations. This new series is 
focused on providing support to the Parties to the Convention on 
Biological Diversity, helping them to identify and monitor their 
biodiversity, to manage and apply information on biodiversity effectively 
and to exchange information. 



Afcn 







The WCMC Biodiversity Series General Editor is N. Mark Collins, 
E^ Director of the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 

Other titles in the series: 

Biodiversity Data Sourcebook 

The Biodiversity Clearing House - Concept and Challenges 

Priorities for Conserving Global Species Richness and Endemism 

Assessing Biodiversity Status and Sustainability 

The World Conservaiiun Monitoring Centre, based in Cambridge, UK, 
was established in 1988 as a company limited by guarantee with 
charitable status. WCMC is managed as a joint venture between the 
three partners in the World Conservation Strategy and its successor 
Caring For The Earth: IUCN - The World Conservation Union, UNEP 
-United Nations Environment Programme, and WWF -World Wide Fund 
for Nature. WCMC provides information services on the conservation 
and sustainable use of the world's living resources and helps others to 
develop information systems of their own. 

Further information is available from 

World Conservation Monitoring Centre 

219 Huntingdon Road 

Cambridge CB3 ODL, United Kingdom 

Tel: +44 (0)1223 277314 

Fax: +44(0)1223 277136 

e-mail: info@wcmc.org.uk 



IUCN 

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WWF 



JOIN TGJ3 
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WORLD CONSERVATION 
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