Supporting the conservation of the Salas y Gómez & Nazca ridges

Date: 1st March 2022

The Coral Reefs of the High Seas Coalition is a multidisciplinary alliance of partners that aims to generate the science, strategic communication, and support that is necessary to conserve coral reefs in areas beyond national jurisdiction. To date, the coalition has mostly focused its efforts on high seas surrounding the Salas y Gómez and Nazca ridges, two seamount chains that stretch across over 2,900 km in the Southeastern Pacific. Isolated by the Humboldt Current and the Atacama Trench, this region is home to one of the most unique collections of biodiversity on Earth. For many groups of organisms, nearly half of the species are endemic to the region and found nowhere else on our planet. Not only is this region a biodiversity hotspot, it is also culturally significant as Polynesian and others have recognized its importance for centuries.

Map showing the Salas y Gomez and Nazca ridges, which stretch across over 2,900 km in the Southeastern Pacific. Over 73% of these ridges are located on the high seas, where they are unprotected and under threat from overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change, with seabed mining looming in the near future (credit: John Nelson, ESRI ).

Last year the coalition published several scientific studies that highlight the natural and cultural significance of the Salas y Gómez and Nazca ridges, including:

Collectively, these scientific assessments underscore the importance of protecting the high seas surrounding the Salas y Gomez & Nazca ridges, which represent the largest and most threatened portion of the ridges. This could be achieved by:

  • closing this region to industrial fishing activities regulated by the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission;
  • closing the region to seabed mining activities regulated by the International Seabed Authority; and
  • establishing a high seas marine protected area once the United Nations Agreement on Marine Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction is finalized and comes into force.

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Posted on Categories HSA Member Activities