No Pristine Oceans Left, New Map Shows

Coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, rocky reefs and shelves are among the most seriously altered ecosystems.

Here's some excerpts...

Full articles on the wildsingapore news blog

No areas of the world's oceans remain completely untouched by humanity's influence, according to a new study.

Every area of the oceans is feeling the effects of fishing, pollution, or human-caused global warming, the study says, and some regions are being affected by all of these factors and more.

Of all the human effects on marine ecosystems, climate change is having by far the largest overall impact, the researchers estimate.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are warming up the atmosphere and, more slowly, the oceans. Also, carbon dioxide dissolves into ocean waters, turning them more acidic, which makes it harder for corals, shellfish, and other animals to grow their protective skeletons or shells.

Reefs and mangroves, coastal habitats that receive a lot of attention from conservationists, were heavily damaged by human activities, the study said. Worst were rocky reefs and continental shelves, where commercial fishing concentrates.

Is it really that bad?

The team did not measure the effects of certain practices, such as illegal fishing and aquaculture, the farming of aquatic plants and animals.

"This makes their estimates of habitat decline conservative, and things are probably worse than they outline,"

"These human impacts overlap in space and time, and in far too many cases the magnitude is frighteningly high," he said.

What can be done about it?

The study "highlights the fact that ecosystems in the sea know no political boundaries. Hence an international, cooperative approach is the only way forward."

"The message for policymakers seems clear to me: conservation action that cuts across the whole set of human impacts is needed now in many places around the globe."

Policy makers should use the scientists' map to separate harmful ocean activities, so negative effects aren't magnified, Halpern said.

"We have business districts and residential districts, schools and churches. All these things are zoned into different places to create some cohesion to our communities that make sense. You don't have a strip club next to a school," the researcher said. "We can allow all these activities to go on, but just not in the same place."

What can you do about it?
Stop being a part of a problem
Start being a part of the solution

More on what you can do to make a difference.

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