Deep-sea and oceanic habitats, threats and species are important to consider when designing and evaluating MPAs and MPA networks for biodiversity conservation in Indonesia. These habitats are also often located close to shore due to extreme depth gradients, creating opportunities for ecotourism. In the Coral Triangle (CT), these deep-sea habitats and species include (adapted from Kahn 2008, 2014):
Migratory (and ecological) corridors; canyons, trenches and sills; seamounts, vents and pinnacles; persistent pelagic habitats (e.g. seasonal upwelling zones and oceanic fronts); large-scale current systems; and drop-offs near oceanic islands.
Oceanic cetaceans (migratory and residential species, including blue, sperm, beaked and Brydes whales and oceanic dolphin); marine turtles; oceanic sharks and rays (e.g. whale sharks and mantas), sunfishes, billfish and tuna; diverse yet vulnerable benthic communities associated with seamounts and/or other deep-sea features.
These deep-sea habitats and species are a high priority for conservation, and most CT member states have already committed to protecting them through national legislation (e.g. all marine mammals are protected under national law), as well as through various international treaties (i.e. UN SDG, CBD, CITES), regional action plans (Coral Triangle Initiative Regional Plan of Action) and national species-specific action plans.
Throughout the waters of the Coral Triangle, here are many current and emerging threats to deep-water habitats and species including: increasing fishing pressure (i.e. targeting seamounts and upwelling zones); over-exploitation of oceanic marine life and their prey species; fisheries interactions (e.g. net entanglement and by-catch); accidental ingestion and uptake of marine debris (plastic trash) concentrated in areas of increased ocean productivity (and thus in important habitats for oceanic marine life); ship strikes (i.e. for whale sharks and large cetaceans); acoustic habitat degradation from ocean noise (shipping, seismic surveys, offshore energy); deep-sea mining; and impacts of climate change.
There is now a pressing need for improved management and conservation of these sensitive marine habitats and species. However, their needs are currently under-represented in most marine planning initiatives in all member states of the Coral Triangle. Therefore, it is important to consider deep-sea habitats and species when designing and evaluating MPAs and MPA networks in the Coral Triangle.