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Sustainable use of deep-sea resources

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  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Geography


DSF_PAPER_COVER.eps The deep-sea frontier 38 6. Sustainable use of deep-sea resources Economics The important life support functions of marine ecosystems are increasingly recognised as part of the global ecosystem, while deep-sea ecosystems goods and services are of growing economic significance. The potentially vast reservoir of renewable and non- renewable resources present in European and international deep waters have received renewed attention in the past decade. Established industries such as fisheries and hydrocarbon extraction have moved rapidly and steadily downslope as shallower and more accessible resources become depleted. Deep- sea fisheries and oil and gas exploration now occur in depths below 2000m, while emerging industries such as blue biotechnology – obtaining useful products through the exploitation of deep-sea genetic biodiversity – are not limited by depth. New deep-water fisheries may still be developing on a global scale, but in the North Atlantic some have been exploited for a century or more, or developed over the last 30-40 years. Scope for further growth appears to be limited as it is clear that the life history characteristics of deep-sea fish are unsuited to industrial harvest. Deep-water trawling is particularly problematic as it leaves a large environmental footprint, especially where fishing occurs in areas of vulnerable habitat such as cold-water coral reefs. In contrast, extraction of energy from the oceans will rise dramatically in the coming decades. Oil and gas exploitation in deep waters will continue to increase over the next 20 years as higher prices make deeper exploitation economically viable. Gas hydrate deposits may provide a new source of energy and research into renewable ocean energies, such as wave, geothermal and ocean-thermal sources, is gaining importance. In tandem with the exploitation of new reserves comes increased pressure to actively remove fossil fuel- derived greenhouse gases from t

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