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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

A Model for Disentangling Dependencies and Impacts among Human Activities and Marine Ecosystem Services

Bryhn, Andreas; Kraufvelin, Patrik; Bergström, Ulf; Vretborn, Max; Bergström, Lena


Understanding and communicating the links among human activities and marine ecosystem services are fundamental for ecosystem-based management, which aims at attaining ecological, economic and social sustainability in the use of our seas. Relationships are typically complex and may differ between geographic areas. Here, an assessment model that combines available quantitative, semi-quantitative and qualitative information, rooted in the DAPSIR (Driver-Activity-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) framework and assessment requirements of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, is developed and applied. Focusing on Swedish marine waters, major human activities at sea are evaluated in relation to their dependencies and impacts on the status of marine ecosystem services. This case study is a consensus assessment based on evaluation of available literature and data. By relating degrees of dependencies and impacts to values of different economic sectors, discrepancies among sectors with respect to their impact versus their monetary value can be identified. In our case, commercial fishing depends on and influences a wide range of ecosystem services, while other sectors, such as shipping, depend little on marine ecosystem services. At the extreme end of the range, pressures from human activities in the past, such as historical nutrient emissions, still have prominent influence on ecosystem services today, entailing considerable losses. Marine tourism and commercial fishing show similar dependencies on ecosystem services, but tourism has a clearly lower impact on ecosystem services and a higher monetary value. The model may serve as a useful tool for communicating and guiding priorities in integrated environmental management and maritime spatial planning.


Assessment model; Ecosystem services; DAPSIR; Ecosystem-based management; Marine fisheries; Marine tourism

Published in

Environmental Management
2020, Volume: 65, number: 5, pages: 575-586