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Scientists map West coast areas most affected by humans
Date:5/11/2009

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Climate change, fishing, and commercial shipping top the list of threats to the ocean off the West Coast of the United States.

"Every single spot of the ocean along the West Coast," said Ben Halpern, a marine ecologist at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, "is affected by 10 to 15 different human activities annually."

In a two-year study to document the way humans are affecting the oceans in this region, Halpern and colleagues overlaid data on the location and intensity of 25 human-derived sources of ecological stress, including climate change, commercial and recreational fishing, land-based sources of pollution, and ocean-based commercial activities.

With the information, they produced a composite map of the status of West Coast marine ecosystems.

The work was published online today in the journal Conservation Letters, and was conducted at NCEAS. NCEAS is primarily funded by NSF's Division of Environmental Biology.

"This important analysis of the geography and magnitude of land-based stressors should help focus attention on the hot-spots where coordinated management of land and ocean activities is needed," said Phillip Taylor, section head in NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences.

The lead scientists on the study conducted a similar analysis on a global scale; the results were published last year in Science. By refining the methods used in the global study and applying them at a regional scale, the scientists were able to test how well the results predicted regional ocean health.

"We found two remarkable and unexpected results in this research," said Halpern. "Ocean management needs to move beyond single-sector management and towards comprehensive ecosystem-based management if it is to be effective at protecting and sustaining ocean health.

"Also, the global results for this region
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Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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