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Articles from Science for Environment Policy

06.01.2014
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Articles from Science for Environment Policy

Policy: Seafloor Damage

'Animal forests' of the sea need better protection
The lack of clear international regulations is putting 'animal forests' at risk, a recent analysis concludes. The research examined threats to these important seafloor habitats, and suggests that collective responsibility and coherent ecosystem-based management are needed to prevent their loss.
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Estimating the true extent of damage to exploited seafloor ecosystems: a UK case study
Some marine ecosystems have been altered over long periods of time, resulting in a loss of knowledge of their true healthy state, new research suggests. In this UK study, researchers used historical records, samples of sediment and present-day diving surveys to reconstruct the true history of shellfish beds on the east coast of Scotland.
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Impacts of seafloor trawling extend further than thought
The effects of seafloor trawling can extend further than the immediate fishing grounds, affecting delicate deep-sea ecosystems, new research suggests. In this Mediterranean study, the researchers demonstrated that clouds of sediment from trawling reached deeper habitats, increasing water-borne sediment particle concentrations to a hundred times that of background levels.
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Reducing fishing in marginal areas could substantially reduce the footprint and impact of seabed fishing
Seabed fishing grounds in the UK are made up of intensively fished core areas surrounded by more rarely used marginal areas, new research shows. Excluding these margins, which contain only 10% of the total fishing activity, approximately halves the total area of fishing grounds. Thus reducing the fishing footprint by closing the marginal areas will disproportionately reduce the seabed impact of fishing activity.
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New tool to map seafloor sensitivity to fishing
A new tool for mapping the sensitivity of seafloor habitats to fishing activities has been developed. Researchers combined data on the resistance of habitats to damage from fishing practices, and how quickly they are able to recover, to produce a widely applicable tool that can be easily understood by stakeholders and used for different locations.
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New method for mapping seafloor ecosystems
Researchers have developed a new method of mapping seafloor habitats, which uses easily measured environmental properties to infer the type and extent of seafloor ecosystems. It could help in the effective implementation of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the researchers suggest.
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Assessing human-driven damage to seafloor habitats
A new method of assessing human impacts on seafloor habitats suggests that over a third of habitats in the Baltic Sea have an 'unfavourable' status. The method is presented in a recent study which concludes that the tool can be effective in helping implement the EU's Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).
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How the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining are assessed
A briefing document, providing policymakers with key information on environmental impact assessments of deep-sea mining, has been published. The authors describe the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in detail to aid management and policy decisions regarding these sensitive habitats.
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New guidelines for protection of unique deep-sea ecosystems
Guidelines to establish reserves protecting deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seep ecosystems have been proposed. A group of stakeholders from 14 countries have put forward the Dinard Guidelines for Chemosynthetic Ecological Reserves, to help design and manage reserves for these unique ecosystems in national and international waters.
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What are the impacts of depositing dredged sediment on the seafloor?
Depositing dredged material on the seabed can significantly reduce the functioning of marine habitats, diminishing the amount of food available for fish and other animals further up the food chain, new research suggests. The author of the study calls for inclusion of this effect into environmental impact assessments of dredging.
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Offshore wind farm foundations could alter seafloor ecosystems of the North Sea
The planned expansion of offshore wind farms in the German Bight of the North Sea will provide hard surfaces in what is currently a soft-bottom habitat. This could see an increase in the numbers of some species, such as mussels, which attach themselves to these hard structures, in turn leading to increased numbers of fish and crabs specialised to this habitat, new research suggests.
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