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Study: Two-thirds of Ocean Experienced Increase in Negative Human Impact in the Last 5 Years

posted: 07/15/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
The ocean around Bunaken Island
Wolcott Henry

Despite increasing awareness of the negative implications of human activity on the environment, our impact on ocean ecosystems has risen dramatically in recent years, according to an exhaustive study from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications, the study investigated the impact of 19 different types of human-induced stressors on 20 different types of marine ecosystems. The stressors studied include many usual suspects: climate change, shipping, pollution and oil drilling.

The analysis revealed unfortunate results: 66% of the ocean was subjected to increased human activities within the last five years, and five percent of the ocean has been "heavily impacted".

Although the impact of some individual stressors has decreased in localized areas, humankind's overall negative impact on the ocean is increasing. Only 10 percent of the ocean "has experienced low impact to date as well as decreasing pressures".

"If the ocean is going to continue to support and sustain human values and needs, addressing and mitigating cumulative impacts must become standard," the study reads. "Our finding that the majority of global waters are currently experiencing large and increasing cumulative impact of human activities brings urgency to addressing this need."

Despite the unfortunate overall outlook, the study did show localized improvements: trawl fishing was down in much of Europe, high bycatch fishing decreased in the Middle East and "sea surface temperature anomalies" decreased around Alaska.

Click here to read the study in the journal Nature Communications

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