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An effective set of principles for practical implementation of marine cumulative effects assessment

Journal article
Authors A. D. Judd
Thomas Backhaus
F. Goodsir
Published in Environmental Science & Policy
Volume 54
Pages 254-262
ISSN 1462-9011
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 254-262
Language en
Keywords Cumulative effect, Environmental risk, Assessment, Marine, HUMAN PRESSURES, MANAGEMENT, ECOSYSTEM, IMPACT
Subject categories Marine ecology


The term "cumulative effects assessment" is frequently used yet the underlying principles and definitions are poorly specified. Consequently, there is no consistency or standardisation in approaches leaving marine managers and developers perplexed on how best to discharge their legal obligations to undertake cumulative effects assessment. This paper explores some of the origins of the terminology and re-interprets how these may best be applied to standardise the vocabulary and approaches to cumulative effects assessment. We define cumulative effects assessment as a systematic procedure for identifying and evaluating the significance of effects from multiple sources/activities and for providing an estimate on the overall expected impact to inform management measures. The analysis of the causes (source of pressures and effects), pathways and consequences of these effects on receptors is an essential and integral part of the process. Environmental risk assessment concepts, in particular sound problem formulation, have been used to provide a clear structure for cumulative effects assessment. We recommend that risk screening, prioritisation and evaluation should be a critical component of cumulative effects assessment to facilitate a filtering of the complex issues for consideration of the likelihood of exposure of receptors to pressures and the likelihood of a receptor responding to those pressures. This paper is intended to provide practical assistance to marine environmental impact assessment practitioners, marine environmental regulators and policy makers. Crown Copyright (C) 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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