The Plight of Deep-Sea Ecosystems

The deep sea, Earth’s largest ecosystem, harbours a rich tapestry of life vital for the planet’s health and stability [1]. From mysterious cold-water coral gardens to cold seeps and beyond, these fragile and mostly unexplored habitats provide essential ecosystem services such as food production, waste management, detoxification and climate regulation [2].

However, deep-sea ecosystems face severe threats from human activities and climate change, including overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction due to deep-sea mining and oil and gas drilling [3]. Emerging plans for expanding mineral exploitation and bottom-contact fisheries in the deep sea indicate that these ecosystems are far from safe [1]. Several international commitments and agreements, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Biological Diversity and Sustainable Development Goal 14,  aim to restore and protect deep-sea ecosystems. To meet Target 2 of the Global Biodiversity Framework by 2030, namely ensuring that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of degraded deep-sea ecosystems are under effective restoration, urgent action is needed.

REDRESS: A Beacon of Hope for Deep-Sea Restoration

Recognising the limitations of protection alone, the REDRESS (Restoration of deep-sea habitats to rebuild European Seas) Horizon EU project aims to contribute to the EU’s commitment to restoring degraded deep-sea ecosystems. 

In the realm of deep-sea restoration, the European Union holds authority over extensive areas, extending beyond its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) through international agreements. The EEZ, typically spanning 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from coastal baselines, grants sovereign rights for exploration, exploitation, conservation and management of natural resources, including the deep sea. Eastern Europe claims the largest deep-ocean area within this region, while Western Europe holds the smallest. Noteworthy nations with significant deep-ocean holdings within their EEZs include the Russian Federation, Portugal, Spain, Norway and Iceland. Understanding these dynamics is essential for effective deep-sea restoration initiatives across Europe’s maritime landscape.

Through innovative methodologies and technologies, REDRESS seeks to demonstrate the feasibility, sustainability and value of deep-sea ecosystem restoration. Launched in February 2024 and running until January 2028, REDRESS’s restoration actions will target degraded key deep-sea habitats in nine case study locations across five European Ecoregions; the Azores, the Celtic Biscay Shelf, the Faroes Shetland Channel, the Iceland shelf and the Mediterranean Sea. The project will focus on restoring habitats crucial for carbon sequestration, such as deep-sea coral reefs and sponge fields.

Goals of REDRESS 

REDRESS is an ambitious project advancing the EU’s marine restoration strategy and providing the necessary data, protocols and tools to upscale deep-sea restoration. REDRESS seeks to integrate the key provisions of the Nature Restoration Law (NRL) into the restoration efforts of deep-sea habitats. It’s worth noting that the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is intricately connected to the NRL, mandating member states to restore all EU marine habitats that have not yet attained good environmental status. 

Despite challenges such as limited data and high costs, the REDRESS project believes that restoring deep-sea ecosystems holds great promise for advancing technology and investing in our natural resources. By encouraging countries to work together and using the latest technology, the project aims to create opportunities for blue economic growth while protecting our deep-sea marine ecosystems. 

Collaboration for Deep-Sea Restoration: SER Europe in Action

SER Europe is proudly a part of the REDRESS Consortium, exemplifying our dedication to pushing the boundaries of restoration science. Our Marine Restoration Project Officer, Fedra Herman, participated in the project kick-off meeting in February 2024 in Genoa, Italy. With 26 consortium partners (and one affiliated entity) from 15 different countries, the ambitious project aims to map degraded deep-sea habitats and identify habitat refugia to help prioritise future European restoration efforts considering various climate change scenarios. The members of the Consortium will cooperate with the All-Atlantic Ocean Research/Innovation Alliance and the UN Ocean Decade to ensure a strong international linkage. 

Learn more about SER Europe’s role within REDRESS in our factsheet.

What to expect from SERE

Looking ahead, SERE will soon launch a Marine Restoration Working Group to boost international collaboration within and beyond the project’s scope. 

Stay informed about the initiative’s developments and SER Europe’s involvement by following updates on social media and the REDRESS website. Your support and engagement are crucial in shaping the future of restoring deep-sea ecosystems.

For any questions related to REDRESS, please reach out to Fedra Herman, Marine Restoration Project Officer at SERE, at


[1] Da Ros, Z., Dell’Anno, A., Morato, T., Sweetman, A. K., Carreiro-Silva, M., Smith, C. J., Papadopoulou, N., Corinaldesi, C., Bianchelli, S., Gambi, C., Cimino, R., Snelgrove, P. V. R., Van Dover, C. L., & Danovaro, R. (2019). The deep sea: The new frontier for ecological restoration. Marine Policy, 108, 103642.

[2] Jobstvogt, N., Townsend, M., Witte, U., & Hanley, N. (2014). How can we identify and communicate the ecological value of Deep-Sea ecosystem services? PLOS ONE, 9(7), e100646.

[3] Paulus, E. (2021). Shedding light on Deep-Sea Biodiversity—A highly vulnerable habitat in the face of anthropogenic change. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8.