THE cold water coral reef off the north coast of Scotland, known as the Darwin Mounds, is to receive emergency protection, Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw has announced.
The Darwin Mounds were discovered in 1998. They are sandy and cold water coral stacks, 1000m below the sea’s surface, about 185km northwest of Scotland. Marine life living on and around the Mounds includes sponges, starfish, sea urchins, and deep sea fish such as the blue ling, round-nosed grenadier and orange roughy. The Mounds have been identified by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) as the best example of a cold water coral reef known in
UK waters.
A European Commission Regulation now bans damaging fishing activity within the Darwin Mounds. Welcoming the regulation, Mr Bradshaw said: “I am delighted that the Commission has accepted the case put forward by the
UK
for protection of the Darwin Mounds. There are now measures in place to protect this important habitat which we know has been under threat from fishing activities.
“The
UK is committed to integrating environmental protection into fisheries policy, and this shows that the revised Common Fisheries Policy can be used for the benefit of the wider marine ecosystem. I am grateful for the Commission action in support of the UK and the efforts of my predecessor Elliott Morley in achieving this.”

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