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Human impacts on marine ecosystems

Harmonizing traditional economic activity and ecosystem-dependent economic values is a challenge we must address, especially for our coasts and oceans. Persistent environmental pressures, including pollution, overharvesting of fisheries, and habitat conversion are driven by growing populations and the growing economic output these populations demand. These pressures have led to dramatic declines in the ecological state of our coasts and oceans. We are in the throes of an epoch of unprecedented species-loss, the emergence of coastal waters which are no longer safe for swimming or fishing, the loss of shoreline protection by coastal habitats and coral reefs, and an unprecedented decline in the value of ecosystem goods and services. In turn the loss of ecological integrity in our oceans and coasts has impacted directly on poverty levels and development, especially in communities traditionally dependent on ecosystem-based economic activities including fishing, tourism, and harvesting. Lotze, et al., 2006 and Halpern, et al., (2008) found that human activities have impacted nearly every ocean and coast on Earth. Over time, over 90 per cent of those species formerly important to humans have been lost in coastal seas and estuaries due to human impacts. During the last decades of the 20th century, human impacts on coasts and oceans destroyed 35 per cent of mangroves; 20 per cent of all coral reefs were destroyed and another 20 per cent were seriously degraded (MEC, 2005). Current rates of annual loss for mangroves, sea grasses and salt marshes may be as high as 2 per cent (Duke, et al., 2007), (FAO, 2007) & (Duarte, et al., 2008). Today, more than 30 per cent of the world’s fish stocks are overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion, and over 400 oxygen-poor ‘dead zones’ exist in the world (Diaz and Rosenberg, 2008).

Year: 2013

From collection: Green Economy in a Blue World - Full Report

Cartographer: GRID-Arendal

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