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Modelling study shows extent of anthropogenic impact on Marine Ecosystems

by Selwyn Bergman
on 18 Feb 2008
Oceanography SA
Oceanography SA

A modelling study that synthesized a number of global datasets of anthropogenic drivers of ecological change for 20 marine ecosystems, has shown that no marine area has been untouched by human influence while a large fraction has been seriously affected.

The report, produced a series of maps that show the extent of anthropogenic influence throughout the oceans. Influences such as Commercial and Artisanal fishing, benthic structures (such as oil rigs), commercial activities (such as major shipping routes), invasive species, ocean pollution and climate change were all included in the model formulation.

The study developed a cumulative-impact-score method to determine the extent to which each square kilometre of the ocean was affected by a particular anthropogenic influence. Each of these were weighted and normalized to produce a score.

The results showed that over a third of the world's oceans indicated a medium high to very high anthropogenic influence while a small fraction indicated a very high impact. No area was totally unaffected. Around South Africa, the resultant map shows that oceans have a medium high anthropogenic influence.

Source: Science Magazine
URL: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/319/5865/948
Science 15 February 2008:
Vol. 319. no. 5865, pp. 948 - 952
DOI: 10.1126/science.1149345

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