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Conceptualisation of multiple impacts interacting in the marine environment using marine infrastructure as an example

Science of The Total Environment - Volume 830


The human population is increasingly reliant on the marine environment for food, trade, tourism, transport, communication and other vital ecosystem services. These services require extensive marine infrastructure, all of which have direct or indirect ecological impacts on marine environments. The rise in global marine infrastructure has led to light, noise and chemical pollution, as well as facilitation of biological invasions. As a result, marine systems and associated species are under increased pressure from habitat loss and degradation, formation of ecological traps and increased mortality, all of which can lead to reduced resilience and consequently increased invasive species establishment. Whereas the cumulative bearings of collective human impacts on marine populations have previously been demonstrated, the multiple impacts associated with marine infrastructure have not been well explored. Here, building on ecological literature, we explore the impacts that are associated with marine infrastructure, conceptualising the notion of correlative, interactive and cumulative effects of anthropogenic activities on the marine environment. By reviewing the range of mitigation approaches that are currently available, we consider the role that eco-engineering, marine spatial planning and agent-based modelling plays in complementing the design and placement of marine structures to incorporate the existing connectivity pathways, ecological principles and complexity of the environment. Because the effect of human-induced, rapid environmental change is predicted to increase in response to the growth of the human population, this study demonstrates that the development and implementation of legislative framework, innovative technologies and nature-informed solutions are vital, preventative measures to mitigate the multiple impacts associated with marine infrastructure.

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Main Outputs / Results:

  • Human activities in the marine environment require extensive marine infrastructure.
  • Multiple negative impacts linked to marine infrastructure can act in synergy.
  • Most impacts linked to marine infrastructure are poorly understood.
  • Solutions exist to mitigate these impacts: legislative, innovative and numerical.

Contact person:

Valeriya Komyakova (valeriya[dot]komyakova[at]utas[dot]edu[dot]au)



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