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Spatial and temporal changes in cumulative human impacts on the world's ocean

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      Abstract

      Human pressures on the ocean are thought to be increasing globally, yet we know little about their patterns of cumulative change, which pressures are most responsible for change, and which places are experiencing the greatest increases. Managers and policymakers require such information to make strategic decisions and monitor progress towards management objectives. Here we calculate and map recent change over 5 years in cumulative impacts to marine ecosystems globally from fishing, climate change, and ocean- and land-based stressors. Nearly 66% of the ocean and 77% of national jurisdictions show increased human impact, driven mostly by climate change pressures. Five percent of the ocean is heavily impacted with increasing pressures, requiring management attention. Ten percent has very low impact with decreasing pressures. Our results provide large-scale guidance about where to prioritize management efforts and affirm the importance of addressing climate change to maintain and improve the condition of marine ecosystems.

      Abstract

      Human pressure on the ocean is thought to be increasing globally, yet the magnitude and patterns of these changes are largely unknown. Here, the authors produce a global map of change in cumulative human pressures over the past 5 years, and show that ∼66% of the ocean has experienced elevated human impact.

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      Most cited references 25

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      A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems.

      The management and conservation of the world's oceans require synthesis of spatial data on the distribution and intensity of human activities and the overlap of their impacts on marine ecosystems. We developed an ecosystem-specific, multiscale spatial model to synthesize 17 global data sets of anthropogenic drivers of ecological change for 20 marine ecosystems. Our analysis indicates that no area is unaffected by human influence and that a large fraction (41%) is strongly affected by multiple drivers. However, large areas of relatively little human impact remain, particularly near the poles. The analytical process and resulting maps provide flexible tools for regional and global efforts to allocate conservation resources; to implement ecosystem-based management; and to inform marine spatial planning, education, and basic research.
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        Global biodiversity: indicators of recent declines.

        In 2002, world leaders committed, through the Convention on Biological Diversity, to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. We compiled 31 indicators to report on progress toward this target. Most indicators of the state of biodiversity (covering species' population trends, extinction risk, habitat extent and condition, and community composition) showed declines, with no significant recent reductions in rate, whereas indicators of pressures on biodiversity (including resource consumption, invasive alien species, nitrogen pollution, overexploitation, and climate change impacts) showed increases. Despite some local successes and increasing responses (including extent and biodiversity coverage of protected areas, sustainable forest management, policy responses to invasive alien species, and biodiversity-related aid), the rate of biodiversity loss does not appear to be slowing.
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          Towards sustainability in world fisheries.

          Fisheries have rarely been 'sustainable'. Rather, fishing has induced serial depletions, long masked by improved technology, geographic expansion and exploitation of previously spurned species lower in the food web. With global catches declining since the late 1980s, continuation of present trends will lead to supply shortfall, for which aquaculture cannot be expected to compensate, and may well exacerbate. Reducing fishing capacity to appropriate levels will require strong reductions of subsidies. Zoning the oceans into unfished marine reserves and areas with limited levels of fishing effort would allow sustainable fisheries, based on resources embedded in functional, diverse ecosystems.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California , Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
            [2 ]Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus , Buckhurst Road, Ascot SL57PY, UK
            [3 ]National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis , 735 State St Suite 300, Santa Barbara, California 93101, USA
            [4 ]Department of Geography, University of California , Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
            [5 ]NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information , Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA
            [6 ]Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans, Conservation International , Arlington, Virginia 22202, USA
            [7 ]Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California , San Diego, California 92093, USA
            [8 ]Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii , Kaneohe, Hawaii HI 97644, USA
            [9 ]ESRI, Boston Office , Middleton, Massachusetts 01949, USA
            Author notes
            Journal
            Nat Commun
            Nat Commun
            Nature Communications
            Nature Pub. Group
            2041-1723
            14 July 2015
            2015
            : 6
            26172980 4510691 ncomms8615 10.1038/ncomms8615
            Copyright © 2015, Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.

            This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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