Issue: Direct pressure of human activities on coasts and oceans - Direct pressures of harvesting non-living materials

This is an issue under the Coasts and oceans theme of the Data Reporting System.

Why we need to know about this issue

Harvesting of non-living materials and fuels (eg pipelines, exploration drilling and extraction rigs and wells) can impact on the surrounding marine environment via direct disturbance of benthic ecosystems and discharges which affect water quality or temperature.

Seismic surveys are a further routine activity in the harvesting of non-living materials and fuels. Little is currently known about the impact of seismic noise on marine animals.


  • CO-26 Extent of potential habitat disturbance by well rigs sites, pipelines etc 
    Number of rigs and length of pipeline occurring in known habitat of selected threatened species (eg whales, dugongs, turtles) will give an indication of some of the species that are potentially under pressure from these activities.
  • CO-27 Number, frequency, extent and volume of oil spills from all sources 
    Oil spills from leaks and spills involved in exploration and extraction activities have direct and lethal impacts on marine biodiversity, suffocating and poisoning fish and invertebrates and rendering seabirds flightless (causing them to drown, starve or be taken by predators). Number, frequency, extent and volume of spills provides an indication of the intensity of this pressure.
  • CO-32 Number of injuries to marine animals from marine debris 
    Exploration and extraction activities produce materials which, if left in the ocean, can impact on marine life. Number of injuries reported that are attributable to this cause are one indicator of the intensity of this pressure.
  • CO-48 Area disturbed/potentially disturbed by seismic surveys 
    Area affected by seismic surveys may be very difficult to estimate. Number of surveys and estimated length of survey lines occurring in known habitat of selected threatened species (eg whales, dugongs, turtles) will give an indication of some of the species that are potentially under pressure from these activities.
  • CO-53 Evidence or examples of noise or visual disturbance of marine species by human activities 
    Many marine organisms rely on sound and visual signals for their survival. It is reasonable to assume that noise and visual cues from extraction and exploration activities may be disruptive to these signals and potentially uncomfortable, even lethal to some marine organisms.
    No indicator has been developed for measuring or assessing the extent of this pressure or its actual impact on marine organisms. Some examples of impacts of sound and visual pollution from exploration and extraction activities on marine animals may be available.
  • CO-64 Quantity of various substances discharged by offshore extraction activities 
    Substances vary enormously in terms of what quantities are dangerous to human health and the environment. Therefore a breakdown, as far as possible, of quantities of all substances discharged from offshore exploration and extraction activities directly into marine waters is required to give an indication of the scale of this pressure.
  • CO-65 Correlation between various human activities and introduction of coastal and marine species 
    Species can be introduced to an ecosystem from various sources, including from fishing activities, on exploration rigs and from coastal activity. However, the principal means of introduction is believed to be from ballast water and on the hulls of ships.
    While number of introduced species is not indicative of anything in its own right, some introduced species do have the capacity to impact on resident species and ecosystems, especially in combination with other anthropogenic factors. However, the correlation between intensity of shipping activity (or other marine uses) and intensity of species introduction may shed light on the relative importance of the various ways in which species are introduced to new waters.
  • LD-40 Current research into pressures and contributions of naturalised introduced species 
    Other indicators for pressures of exploration and extraction of energy fuels and minerals do not inform on whether naturalised populations are exerting pressure on native species or ecosystems. Current research into this issue, even in the absence of national data, may shed some light on these effects.
  • BD-09 The change in extent of selected nationally significant invasive species 
    Species can be introduced to an ecosystem from exploration rigs. While it is difficult, on the basis of any available data, to establish whether and how invasive any species might be, changes in distribution and population of one species may be an indicator of more profound ecological changes. Additionally, where there is a concern that a particular species is behaving invasively, changes in its distribution may signal an increase in area at risk, either from the species itself, or from the environmental modifications that are favouring its expansion.

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