Ospar Commission
OSPAR's Quality Status Report 2023 Friday Ocean Findings Issue 16
This week we are looking at some of the deep sea habitats on OSPAR's list of threatened and/or declining species and habitats. Our latest assessments of deep sea sponge aggregations, oceanic ridges with hydrothermal vents, seamounts, and carbonate mounds have just been published as part of our next holistic assessment of the status of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic.
Deep sea sponge aggregations

Deep-sea sponge aggregations are assessed as being in poor condition in Arctic Waters (Region I), Greater North Sea (Region II), Celtic Seas (Region III), bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast (Region VI) and the Wider Atlantic (Region V) on account of their high vulnerability to, and slow recovery from, fishing impacts, which continue to occur throughout the habitat range. Knowledge on their distribution, extent, and condition has increased since the last assessment.

Oceanic ridges with hydrothermal vents

Oceanic ridges with hydrothermal vents are assessed as being in good status, but low confidence is placed overall on the assessment. Any trends in status associated with climate change and ocean acidification are unknown, and future plans to explore and exploit vents for deep-seabed minerals are of concern. In order to improve or maintain the good status, conservation measures for deep-sea hydrothermal vents are necessary to protect these important but rare, sensitive, island-like ecosystems with unique biotic and abiotic features.


Seamounts are assessed as having a poor status overall in Arctic Waters (Region I), Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast (Region IV) and Wider Atlantic (Region V), due to their continued vulnerability to fishing impacts. This is continuing to damage habitats found in association with the seamounts and removing both target and non-target species particularly in Regions IV and V.

Carbonate mounds

Given the (i) ongoing threat, potential displacement and intensification, and significant impacts to carbonate mounds posed by demersal fisheries, (ii) lack of marine protected areas and/or fisheries management measures covering carbonate mounds, (iii) ongoing evidence of fisheries damage including lost fishing gear on carbonate mounds, and (iv) vulnerability and sensitivity of other Threatened and Declining listed habitats on carbonate mounds, this habitat type has been assessed as likely having overall poor status.

OSPAR Commission
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