Protecting a Hidden Natural Wonder of the World – The Emperor Seamounts
Holding some of the largest reserves of biodiversity on Earth and covering nearly half the planet’s surface, the high seas support an abundance of marine life. However, with only 1% of the high seas highly and fully protected, they remain critically threatened and among the least understood parts of our planet.
One such area of the high seas that deserves priority protection is the nutrient-rich waters of the Emperor Seamounts. Extending over 2,000km of seafloor in the North Pacific, these unique underwater mountains provide an artery of biodiversity and are believed to be used as stepping stones for a vast array of marine animals.
Sadly the Emperor Seamounts have paid a heavy price for their nutrient rich waters. Bottom trawling in the 1950’s and 60’s has left deep scars across this unique deep-sea landscape, removing more than 200,000 tonnes of fish and corals during peak years. Devastatingly bottom trawling continues to this day.
The Leading Women for the Ocean support the High Seas Alliance and others in the call for the Emperor Seamounts to received priority protect. But with no legal mechanism to establish a marine protected area (MPA) in the high seas, we must ensure the new United Nations High Seas Treaty sets up a global process for MPAs. By establishing a highly and fully protected area around the Emperor Seamounts, where no harmful fishing activity can occur, we can save this ecologically vital area for ourselves and future generations.