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Deep sea heritage.

UNESCO wants to add deep-sea ecosystems, including sunken coral islands, floating rainforests, and giant undersea volcanoes to its list of World Heritage sites, given their "outstanding universal value." Such sites can't currently be included in the list because they are found in the high seas, outside of any national jurisdiction.

In a report released in August, UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature recommended five ocean biodiversity hotspots worthy of recognition: the Costa Rica Thermal Dome in the Pacific Ocean; the White Shark Cafe, the only known gathering point for white sharks in the Pacific Ocean; the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean; the Lost City Hydrothermal Field, with its 60-meter high carbonate monoliths (also in the Atlantic); and the Atlantis Bank, a sunken fossil island in the subtropical waters of the Indian Ocean.

All of these sites face various threats, be it from climate change, deep seabed mining, navigation, or plastic pollution, and could benefit from the recognition and protection of the World Heritage Convention, the report says.

Including high-seas sites in the program, however, will require adjusting the nominating and approval process, which currently allows countries to propose sites only within their own borders.


Please note: Some tables or figures were omitted from this article.

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Title Annotation:UPWELL; UNESCO wants to add deep-sea ecosystems to its list of World Heritage sites
Publication:Earth Island Journal
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Sep 22, 2016
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