How wild is the ocean? Assessing the intensity of anthropogenic marine activities in British Columbia, Canada

Publication Type: Journal Article

Year of Publication: 2007

Authors: Ban, NC, Alder J

Journal: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

Volume: 18

Issue: 1

Pagination: 55 - 85

Date Published: 01/2008

ISSN: 10990755

Keywords: British Columbia, coastal zone management, conservation planning, fisheries, human impact,Marine conservation, marine protected areas, stressors


1. The intensity of marine activities in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of British Columbia, Canada, was quantified.
2. Humans use the ocean for a multitude of purposes, many of which have a direct impact on marine life and habitat. Yet such uses are seldom assessed in an integrated fashion.
3. Using a GIS approach, spatial information for 39 marine activities was mapped, including commercial and recreational fishing areas, transportation and infrastructure uses, and terrestrial activities along the coast of British Columbia.
4. A relative scale was used to rank both the impact of marine activities and the extent of stressors beyond the location of occurrence. Limited information on the latter led to the application of three ranges of buffer distances to the data (0–1 km, 0–5 km, and 0–25 km).
5. The most conservative estimate (41 km buffers) indicates at least 83% of the continental shelf and slope of British Columbia is currently being used by humans. The largest buffer assumption shows 98% of the continental shelf and slope being affected by stressors from anthropogenic activities.
6. This analysis provides a baseline for assessing future changes in the state of British Columbia’s marine environment, and could assist in identifying areas of conservation potential.

DOI: 10.1002/aqc.816

Short Title: Aquatic Conserv: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst.