Practical Management of Cumulative Anthropogenic Impacts with Working Marine Examples

Journal Article

Title: Practical Management of Cumulative Anthropogenic Impacts with Working Marine Examples
Authors: Wright, A.; Kyhn, L.
Publication Date:
April 01, 2015
Journal: Conservation Biology
Volume: 29
Issue: 2
Pages: 333-340
Publisher: Wiley

Document Access

Website: External Link


Wright, A.; Kyhn, L. (2015). Practical Management of Cumulative Anthropogenic Impacts with Working Marine Examples. Conservation Biology, 29(2), 333-340.

Human pressure on the environment is expanding and intensifying, especially in coastal and offshore areas. Major contributors to this are the current push for offshore renewable energy sources, which are thought of as environmentally friendly sources of power, as well as the continued demand for petroleum. Human disturbances, including the noise almost ubiquitously associated with human activity, are likely to increase the incidence, magnitude, and duration of adverse effects on marine life, including stress responses. Stress responses have the potential to induce fitness consequences for individuals, which add to more obvious directed takes (e.g., hunting or fishing) to increase the overall population-level impact. To meet the requirements of marine spatial planning and ecosystem-based management, many efforts are ongoing to quantify the cumulative impacts of all human actions on marine species or populations. Meanwhile, regulators face the challenge of managing these accumulating and interacting impacts with limited scientific guidance. We believe there is scientific support for capping the level of impact for (at a minimum) populations in decline or with unknown statuses. This cap on impact can be facilitated through implementation of regular application cycles for project authorization or improved programmatic and aggregated impact assessments that simultaneously consider multiple projects. Cross-company collaborations and a better incorporation of uncertainty into decision making could also help limit, if not reduce, cumulative impacts of multiple human activities. These simple management steps may also form the basis of a rudimentary form of marine spatial planning and could be used in support of future ecosystem-based management efforts.

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