Human Impacts: Marine Resources and Pollution
Humans have been exploiting ocean resources for as long as our ancestors have been living on its shores back into antiquity. The oceans provide a major means of subsistence for about a quarter of the world's population. The exponential growth of the human population in the last 3 centuries have significantly impacted the physical environment, both land and water. This chapter starts with an examination of natural resources the oceans provide and also examines the degradation of the quality of the marine environment due to the addition of anthropogenic (from humans) materials. The production and consumption of natural resources by the growing global human population is harming sea life throughout the world’s oceans. Laws and regulations are helping to manage some of the sources of ocean pollution. But, perhaps most detrimental, and the hardest to control, are the impacts of the behavior of people in their daily lives. This chapter examines the types and causes of ocean pollution, and the effects on sea life, and provides suggestions for some ways to mitigate problems.
Figure 17.1. A healthy reef on Cordell Banks, California