Impacts /Interactions for Maritime transport

Maritime transport affects the marine environment, both in the course of routine operations and through accidental events. Its impacts can be localized (e.g. the effects of anchoring or mooring) or far-reaching (e.g. underwater noise from ship engines); and they occur during offshore navigation as well as in coastal areas.



Underwater noise

Chronic exposure and cumulative effects of underwater noise can have long-term consequences for the conservation status of cetaceans, sea turtles, fish, aquatic birds and marine invertebrates.

Underwater noise hotspots in the Mediterranean – particularly acute on busy maritime routes – overlap with several protected areas and/or with areas of importance to noise-sensitive marine mammal species.

Collisions with marine fauna

Collisions with large vessels represent the main fatal threat for whales in the region.  Ship strikes are made more likely by underwater noise, which can interfere with cetacean communication and prevent animals from detecting and reacting to threats.

Pollution from oil and other chemicals

Oil spills are one of the most serious causes of marine pollution; the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre (REMPEC) estimated that the total input of oil from ships into the Mediterranean is between 100,000-150,000 tonnes per year.

While major sea routes and the areas around key oil terminals are clearly most at risk, serious accidental oil spills could occur anywhere in the Mediterranean.

Air pollution

Gaseous emissions from ships seriously affect marine ecosystems, as well as human health. In particular, emissions are known to exacerbate ocean acidification, and they are also a major contributor to climate change.

Seabed disturbance

The anchoring and mooring of large vessels leads to abrasion and disturbance of bottom sediments, which damages benthic habitats and species. In addition, when bottom sediments are physically disturbed, water turbidity may increase: this can harm habitat types of important conservation value, including the seagrass Posidonia oceanica.

Introduction of alien species

A steady rise in numbers of non-indigenous species introduced via shipping has been detected across the Mediterranean basin, with a current rate (based on the last decade) of about one new species every six weeks. According to the European Environmental Agency, shipping accounts for 51% of the introductions of non-indigenous marine species. Some of those species are invasive and could pose a serious threat to Mediterranean ecosystems.


More info:
Final recommendations of the PHAROS4MPAs project regarding the maritime traffic and industrial ports sector in the Mediterranean.