Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010: Indicator #17, Impacts of Human Activities on Benthic Habitat
Cold-water coral reefs, coral gardens, and sponge aggregations provide a habitat for a variety of fish and invertebrates and thus represent biodiversity hotspots in the Arctic seas. These habitats are vulnerable to fisheries and other human activities such as oil and gas exploration and are as such examples of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs). Impact or damage may lower the local biodiversity and diminish the possibility for many species to find shelter and feeding grounds. Because corals and sponges grow very slowly, the recovery of these habitats may take from decades to centuries, and in some cases, may not recover at all. Political awareness about this issue is reflected in The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 61/105 towards long-term sustainable use of deep-sea fisheries resources and prevention of significant adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems.