The project aims to enhance the knowledge base necessary to develop effective conservation and management options for high seas biodiversity.
Two research expeditions of 40 days each will study five selected seamounts in the southern Indian Ocean. The first cruise will focus on the pelagic ecosystem, fishery resources and oceanography, and the second cruise on benthic ecosystems. They will help answer key scientific questions, including:
- What is driving the seamount ecosystems and fisheries?
- How diverse are seamount fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates?
- What are the benthic communities of the studied seamounts like?
- Are the predictions of coral diversity based on global modelling studies accurate?
- What are the impacts of past and current deep-sea fishing activities?
- Do the benthic protected areas make a significant contribution to conservation of vulnerable seabed communities and do they benefit fishing?
The scientific expeditions, planned for the end of 2009 and 2011 respectively, will comprise a multidisciplinary team of international scientists, paired with experts from the region. This will provide opportunities for capacity building, as well as expanding the global network of scientists interested in oceanography and deep-sea applied research and conservation.
The major partners on this research cruise are IOZ/ZSL, FAO and its EAF-Nansen project, the ASCLME Project, ACEP, IMR and SIODFA. The work is funded by the Global Environment Facility, The Natural Environment Research Council, UK, and the FAO.