Human impacts on marine ecosystems
Humans have used and had an impact on marine ecosystems throughout history. As human populations and their economic activity increased the impact intensified, but our awareness of the long‐term, pervasive effects on marine life is relatively recent and very incomplete. This chapter introduces some of the ethical and utilitarian values which underlie our relationship with marine ecosystems and gives a brief overview of historic evidence concerning past states of marine ecosystems and intensification of human impacts. It describes impacts of fishing and other human pressures on the demography and biomass of exploited species and on loss of vulnerable species and habitats. Fishing and climate interact to cause observed change to ecosystems, including their trophic structure, with consequences for resilience and productivity. Emerging conclusions about human impacts, future human stewardship and utilization of marine ecosystems are presented.
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