Researchers persuade marine sectors to work in coherence to save marine ecosystems

A new research to explore how marine industries evaluate their potential for progressive impact on mammal species such as dolphins, seals, and whales in UK waters finds marine industries need to learn from each other to better protect marine life and their environments.

The findings published in a paper in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science presents how cumulative impacts of marine life are currently being considered for 11 industries, including oil and gas decommissioning, offshore wind farms, dredging and harbour development.

Following a review of assessing potential cumulative impact of the activity of marine industries, 75% of the industries were rated as weak or very weak, and only 4% were rated to be very strong.

According to findings presented in the paper, construction noise was the most common stressor to be accounted within the assessments, which was included in 45% documents that were reviewed, whereas vessel noise included in 29%.

The research team comprises experts of various areas of marine science.

The research reveals that each industry evaluates the cumulative stressors in different ways, explains the lead author of the study. This involves use of models, collecting own data, and utilizing the latest and best available science to more assess their potential impact more accurately, whereas for other industries the assessments do not make it clear how, if the potential cumulative impacts are assessed.

This is of concern because an inconsistent approach may imply that some industries protect marine mammals better from the potential negative influence of their activities than other industries.

In fact, most marine industries that have operations in UK waters must first complete a Cumulative Effects Assessment. This involves identifying, predicting, and evaluating the impact of their work on marine ecosystems.