Mapping cumulative impacts of human activities on marine ecosystems
SeaPlan and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) have released the results of a cumulative impact study of human activities on marine ecosystems in Massachusetts’ state and federal waters. During the first phase of the project, researchers surveyed 57 regional ecosystem experts to gauge the relative vulnerability of marine ecosystems to current and emerging human stressors, such as fishing, nutrient input, and energy infrastructure. They then combined the results with spatial information on marine ecosystems and human stressors to determine cumulative impacts in Massachusetts waters. The resulting cumulative impacts maps and ecosystem vulnerability matrix yield insight into which ecosystems and areas are most vulnerable and which human uses, alone and in combination, are likely putting the most stress on marine ecosystems. SeaPlan initiated and co-authored this study with NCEAS and the assistance of Stone Environmental Inc. and Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.