Conflicts in the coastal zone: human impacts on commercially important fish species utilizing coastal habitat.
Coastal ecosystems are ecologically, culturally, and economically important, and hence are under pressure from diverse human activities. We reviewed the literature for existing evidence of effects of human-induced habitat changes on exploited fish utilizing coastal habitats. We focused on fish species of the Northeast Atlantic for which fisheries advice is provided by International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and which utilize coastal habitats for at least one life-history stage (LHS). We found that 92% of these species are impacted by human activity in at least one LHS while utilizing coastal habitat and 38% in multiple stages. Anthropogenic pressures most commonly shown to impact these fish species were toxicants and pollutants (75% of species). Eutrophication and anoxia, invasive species, and physical coastal development affected about half of the species (58, 54, and 42% of species, respectively), while indirect fishing impacts affected a minority (17% of species). Moreover, 71% of the ICES advice species that utilize coastal habitats face impacts from more than one pressure, implying cumulative effects. Given that three-fourths of the commercial landings come from fish species utilizing coastal habitats, there is an obvious need for a better understanding of the impacts that human activities cause in these habitats for the development of ecosystem-based fisheries management.