High Human Impact Ocean Areas Along U.S. West Coast Revealed

The National Science Foundation
May 11, 2009

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 at 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.

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