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Free Content The Darwin Mounds: from undiscovered coral to the development of an offshore marine protected area regime

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The first offshore Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the United Kingdom (UK) is the Darwin Mounds, an area of Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus, 1758) discovered only in 1998. At the time of its discovery, this was considered to be an exceptional example of L. pertusa, growing on a sand base, rather than hard substratum, and exhibiting a distinctive "tail" structure not yet seen elsewhere. Damage to the area caused by deep-water trawling has been observed and in 2003, at the UK's request, the European Commission imposed a ban on trawling in a 1380 km 2 area surrounding the Mounds, which became permanent in 2004. This move was made possible by the revised Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and represents the first EC example of an offshore fisheries closure for nature conservation (rather than fish stocks). Eventually a network of offshore MPAs will be designated throughout the EU's marine waters, including around the UK. Drawing on a detailed legal and policy analysis and a program of semi-structured interviews with stakeholders, regulators and specialists in the field, this paper explores the unique circumstances and sequence of events that led to the protection of the Darwin Mounds.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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