Man and the Last Great Wilderness: Human Impact on the Deep Sea

Type Article
Date 2011-08
Language English
Author(s) Ramirez-Llodra Eva1, Tyler Paul A.2, Baker Maria C.2, Bergstad Odd Aksel3, Clark Malcolm R.4, Escobar Elva5, Levin Lisa A.6, Menot LenaickORCID7, Rowden Ashley A.4, Smith Craig R.8, Van Dover Cindy L.9
Affiliation(s) 1 : CSIC, Inst Ciencias Mar, Barcelona, Spain
2 : Univ Southampton, Natl Oceanog Ctr Southampton, Sch Ocean & Earth Sci, Southampton, Hants, England
3 : Inst Marine Res, Flodevigen, Norway
4 : Natl Inst Water & Atmospher Res, Wellington, New Zealand
5 : Univ Nacl Autonoma Mexico, Inst Ciencias Mar & Limnol, Mexico City 04510, DF, Mexico
6 : Univ Calif San Diego, Scripps Inst Oceanog, Integrat Oceanog Div, La Jolla, CA 92093 USA
7 : Univ Hawaii, Dept Oceanog, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA
8 : IFREMER, DEEP LEP, Plouzane, France
9 : Duke Univ, Nicholas Sch Environm, Div Marine Sci & Conservat, Beaufort, NC USA
Source Plos One (1932-6203) (Public Library Science), 2011-08 , Vol. 6 , N. 8 , P. -
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0022588
WOS© Times Cited 435
Abstract The deep sea, the largest ecosystem on Earth and one of the least studied, harbours high biodiversity and provides a wealth of resources. Although humans have used the oceans for millennia, technological developments now allow exploitation of fisheries resources, hydrocarbons and minerals below 2000 m depth. The remoteness of the deep seafloor has promoted the disposal of residues and litter. Ocean acidification and climate change now bring a new dimension of global effects. Thus the challenges facing the deep sea are large and accelerating, providing a new imperative for the science community, industry and national and international organizations to work together to develop successful exploitation management and conservation of the deep-sea ecosystem. This paper provides scientific expert judgement and a semi-quantitative analysis of past, present and future impacts of human-related activities on global deep-sea habitats within three categories: disposal, exploitation and climate change. The analysis is the result of a Census of Marine Life - SYNDEEP workshop (September 2008). A detailed review of known impacts and their effects is provided. The analysis shows how, in recent decades, the most significant anthropogenic activities that affect the deep sea have evolved from mainly disposal (past) to exploitation (present). We predict that from now and into the future, increases in atmospheric CO(2) and facets and consequences of climate change will have the most impact on deep-sea habitats and their fauna. Synergies between different anthropogenic pressures and associated effects are discussed, indicating that most synergies are related to increased atmospheric CO(2) and climate change effects. We identify deep-sea ecosystems we believe are at higher risk from human impacts in the near future: benthic communities on sedimentary upper slopes, cold-water corals, canyon benthic communities and seamount pelagic and benthic communities. We finalise this review with a short discussion on protection and management methods.
Full Text
File Pages Size Access
Publisher's official version 25 990 KB Open access
Top of the page