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Friday, February 15, 2008

the world’s oceans have been damaged in some way by human activity

Scientists Say:Nearly All Oceans Damaged by Human Activities, Scientists Say
Nearly every corner of the world’s oceans have been damaged in some way by human activity and 41 percent has a “medium high” or “high” impact, a new research released Thursday has found.

Scientists at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, U.S., said that people were having a major impact on the oceans and the marine ecosystem within them.

“In the past, many studies have shown the impact of individual activities. But here for the first time we have produced a global map of all of these different activities layered on top of each other so that we can get this big picture of the overall impact that humans are having rather than just single impacts,” lead scientist, Dr. Benjamin Halpern of the National Center for Ecological Analysis said.

The map showed that more than 40 percent of the world’s marine ecosystems are heavily affected. Major hot spots include the North Sea off the northern coast of Europe and Asia’s South China Sea and East China Sea.

“Those area are definitely in a degraded state, and a state that if people went diving it, probably would not be too happy to be in,” Halpern said.

Only 3.7 percent of the oceans have seen little or no impact from human activity, but that is because they seem to be free of daily human activity. These oceans lie near the North and South poles.

The team of 20 international scientists looked at the damaging impact resulted from 17 human activities, including commercial fishing, runoff from development, invasive species, industrial pollution, oil rigs, and effects of climate change.

Climate change seems to be the biggest damage brought to oceans, while shipping traffic is the third largest culprit because there is simply so much of it.

“The fuel gets spilled, there’s noise pollution which is disturbing to whales and such…which has a major affect of the ecosystem,” the report said.

The researchers said the report was meant to sound an alarm to environmental groups and governments about the daily degradation of the oceans.

“Hopefully, this is a wake-up call showing our impacts are on the oceans and what can be done to minimize them,” Halpern said.

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