A Review of Resource Management Strategies for Protection of Seamounts


Oren T. Frey, Andrew P. DeVogelaere
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

photo montage of sea life

Seamounts are prominent undersea mountains characterized by complex topography that provide a variety of habitat for rich and diverse communities. Of the world's thousands of identified seamounts, most are difficult to access and few have been studied in any detail. Yet there is growing awareness that seamounts are special undersea features hosting unique and highly productive ecosystems, and they are of great interest to researchers in many fields. Over the past decade, there has been a strong push to protect seamount communities from threats ranging from deep-sea fishing to harvesting of non-living marine resources. A number of resource protection mechanisms exist for seamounts, ranging from national legislation to multi-lateral agreements to conserve seamounts on the high seas, using the authority of international instruments. Several prominent seamounts off the U.S. west coast have been protected, with Davidson Seamount in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary having the highest level of protection. While there are a number of other examples of seamount protection successes in both U.S. and foreign waters, as well as in waters beyond the jurisdiction of any nation, there is a wide range in both the scope of protective measures and in the designating governments' resource management capacities.

Key Words:

Seamount, marine protected area, conservation, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, MBNMS, threats, deep-sea, resource protection