Pressures affecting the marine environment

Component
Summary
Grade
Very high impact High impact Low impact Very low impact
Confidence
In Grade In Trend
Comparability
To previous years

How climate variability across multiple timescales will be affected by climate change is poorly understood

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Climate change - sea temperature

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Many components identified as physical and chemical processes in SoE 2011 are collectively presented under impacts associated with the pressure of climate change in SoE 2016. This is because many of the changes being observed in these components during the SoE reporting period are the direct result of changes occurring as a result of climate change. This thereby avoids repetition of content between sections of the SoE report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

 
 
 

Ocean warming and extreme events will continue to significantly impact and stress marine ecosystems

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Sea level rise, increasing ocean temperatures and acidity are beginning to have significant impacts in all regions, and these effects are expected to increase. The worst affected areas are in the south-east and south-west, and are irreversibly and very seriously impacted. Changes in ocean current dynamics driven by climate change are also affecting these two regions

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2011
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Climate change - ocean acidification

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011. It was reported on under State and trends and the component title has changed.

  • Many components identified as physical and chemical processes in SoE 2011 are collectively presented under impacts associated with the pressure of climate change in SoE 2016. This is because many of the changes being observed in these components during the SoE reporting period are the direct result of changes occurring as a result of climate change. This thereby avoids repetition of content between sections of the SoE report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

Ocean acidification will have widespread impacts across marine ecosystems. The state and trend is for open-ocean surface water only

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Acidification is a significant risk in all regions, although only limited evidence of change to date

Year(s): 
2011
4
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Climate change - ocean currents and eddies

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Many components identified as physical and chemical processes in SoE 2011 are collectively presented under impacts associated with the pressure of climate change in SoE 2016. This is because many of the changes being observed in these components during the SoE reporting period are the direct result of changes occurring as a result of climate change. This thereby avoids repetition of content between sections of the SoE report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

 
 
 

The boundary currents are highly variable as a result of changes in the large-scale ocean gyre circulation and major climate drivers

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Sea level rise, increasing ocean temperatures and acidity are beginning to have significant impacts in all regions, and these effects are expected to increase. The worst affected areas are in the south-east and south-west, and are irreversibly and very seriously impacted. Changes in ocean current dynamics driven by climate change are also affecting these two regions

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2011
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Climate change - nutrient supply and cycling

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Many components identified as physical and chemical processes in SoE 2011 are collectively presented under impacts associated with the pressure of climate change in SoE 2016. This is because many of the changes being observed in these components during the SoE reporting period are the direct result of changes occurring as a result of climate change. This thereby avoids repetition of content between sections of the SoE report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

 
 
 

Improved understanding of the relative role of key physical drivers and better understanding of recent trends is required for future projection assessments

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2016
2
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Sea level rise, increasing ocean temperatures and acidity are beginning to have significant impacts in all regions, and these effects are expected to increase. The worst affected areas are in the south-east and south-west, and are irreversibly and very seriously impacted. Changes in ocean current dynamics driven by climate change are also affecting these two regions

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2011
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Climate change - ocean salinity

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011. It was reported on under State and trends and the component title has changed.

  • Many components identified as physical and chemical processes in SoE 2011 are collectively presented under impacts associated with the pressure of climate change in SoE 2016. This is because many of the changes being observed in these components during the SoE reporting period are the direct result of changes occurring as a result of climate change. This reflects the move of the assessment of Ocean salinity from the 2011 State and trend of physical and chemical processes section.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

Spatially highly variable; mean surface salinity patterns have intensified during the past 50 years

Year(s): 
2016
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Significant changes evident in the south-east

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Climate change - dissolved oxygen and oxygen minimum zones

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Many components identified as physical and chemical processes in SoE 2011 are collectively presented under impacts associated with the pressure of climate change in SoE 2016. This is because many of the changes being observed in these components during the SoE reporting period are the direct result of changes occurring as a result of climate change. This reflects the move of the assessment of Low oxygen - dead zones from the 2011 State and trend of physical and chemical processes section.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

Observed changes are few in open ocean environments and there are currently insufficient temporal data to assess trends. Based on model projections, dissolved oxygen is expected to decline

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Pressures resulting from climate change
Sea level rise, increasing ocean temperatures and acidity are beginning to have significant impacts in all regions, and these effects are expected to increase. The worst affected areas are in the south-east and south-west, and are irreversibly and very seriously impacted. Changes in ocean current dynamics driven by climate change are also affecting these two regions

Year(s): 
2011
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Low oxygen - dead zones
Each region has one or more examples, and these have major or extreme local impacts, but limited regional consequences

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Commercial fishing

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011:

  • The 2011 assessment has been divided into commercial and recreational components to support comprehensive assessment of the pressures, monitoring processes and management structures associated with each for the purposes of the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

 
 
 

Many pressures have been reduced through management. However, some significant pressures still exist for a number of target and bycatch species, and a number of species and habitats are not recovering from past pressures

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Pressures are decreasing overall, although in the worst areas of the south-east, east and south-west, pressures are widespread and causing serious degradation, and the east continues to degrade

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2011
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Recreational Fishing

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011:

  • The 2011 assessment has been divided into commercial and recreational components to support comprehensive assessment of the pressures, monitoring processes and management structures associated with each for the purposes of the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

 
 
 

Pressure from recreational fishing is substantial for specific species and trends, but is variable across marine regions.

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Pressures are decreasing overall, although in the worst areas of the south-east, east and south-west, pressures are widespread and causing serious degradation, and the east continues to degrade

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2011
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Traditional use is generally considered localised and sustainable, but future effective monitoring is required for quantifying trend

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

These pressures are localised and stable

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Marine oil and gas exploration and production

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The assessment title has been revised to to maintain distinction between land and marine environments for the purposes of the report

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

Pressures remain localised, with the greatest activity occurring in the North-west and South-east marine regions. Exploration activity in the Great Australian Bight is increasing

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Most pressures are localised. The worst areas are in the south-east and north-west, but impacts remain minor overall. Pressures are expected to increase in the north-west.

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Marine mining and industry

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The assessment title has been revised to to maintain distinction between land and marine environments for the purposes of the report

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

Sea-floor modification is localised. More regional environmental pressures are likely to be associated with disturbed sediments

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

The worst areas, in the south-east and south-west, have suffered serious degradation

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Marine renewable energy generation

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The assessment title has been revised to to maintain distinction between land and marine environments and other sources of energy generation such as oil and gas for the purposes of the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

 
 
 

Industry-scale deployments are sparse, with few quantitative data available for environmental pressures. Pressures are likely localised

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2016
4
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

These pressures are localised and stable

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2011
4
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Marine vessel activity


This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • The assessment title has been revised to support a comprehensive assessment of commercial and recreational marine vessels for the purposes of the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.
 

Vessel activity is continuing to increase in all regions, resulting in a range of increased risks

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Pressures are increasing in all regions, resulting in declining conditions

Year(s): 
2011
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Monitoring is currently spatially and temporally limited, although data now exist to quantify noise. Pressures are mostly localised, although some sources can have large spatial and temporal footprints.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Increasing losses of debris into the marine environment are expected to continue, with a corresponding increase in marine fauna impacted, and associated socio-economic, environmental, navigation and hazard impacts.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Topics

There are widespread pressures in all regions

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Topics

Toxins, pesticides and herbicides

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011. It was reported on under State and trends.

  • Toxins, pesticides, herbicides can be regarded as pressures impacting the marine environment. The assessment for Toxins, pesticides, herbicides has been moved to the Pressures affecting the marine environment section of the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.
 

 
 
 

Very little is known of levels of toxins, pesticides and herbicides outside coastal regions and the Great Barrier Reef. Impacts are assumed to be low.

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Significant changes in the south-west and south-east

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Dumped Wastes

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011. It was originally reported under State and trends.

  • Dumped wastes can be regarded as pressures impacting the marine environment. The assessment for Dumped wastes has been moved to the Pressures affecting the marine environment section of the report.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting
cycles.

 
 
 

The state of coastal sea-floor habitats is good, although potential for cumulative impacts is increasing and these impacts are possibly evident in localised areas

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2016
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Topics

Significant issues with dumped wastes in the east and south-east

 
 
 
Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Topics

 

 
 
 
Evans K, Bax NJ, Smith DC (2016). Marine environment: Pressures affecting the marine environment. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/assessment-summary/marine-environment/pressures-affecting-marine-environment, DOI 10.4226/94/58b657ea7c296