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Fauna & Flora International (FFI) welcomes the important new study in Nature highlighting the potential for highly protected marine areas to deliver biodiversity, food and climate co-benefits.

“This study shines a light on the vast stores of historical carbon locked away in our sea beds, and the critical importance of improving ocean management on a global scale”, said Daniel Steadman, FFI’s Fisheries & Biodiversity Technical Specialist.

“As we move towards COP26, the need for decision makers to embrace the ocean-climate nexus is increasingly evident. Natural habitats, including our global ocean, drive the world’s carbon cycle, and include vast stores of so-called “legacy carbon” – carbon laid down through millennia by the action of plants and the deposition of organisms (both plants and animals) into marine sediments. FFI is calling for the vital and urgent protection of this legacy carbon.

“Bottom trawling doesn’t just disturb our ocean sediments; it also causes disproportionate damage to the habitats on which a range of marine species depend. The Nature study makes a case for restricting bottom trawling entirely, given it only takes place on 1.3% of the seabed, but it doesn’t fully account for the changes required to compensate for the loss of an industry that contributes a quarter of all global seafood. To protect seabed diversity and the legacy carbon it stores, FFI supports collaborative transformation of destructive fishing practices and pragmatic, scalable solutions to enable global fish catch to be maintained at less cost to the planet.”