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Tracking the global reduction of marine traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic
March, D.; Metcalfe, K.; Tintoré, J.; Godley, B.J. (2021). Tracking the global reduction of marine traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature Comm. 12(1): 2415.
In: Nature Communications. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2041-1723; e-ISSN 2041-1723, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • March, D.
  • Metcalfe, K.
  • Tintoré, J.
  • Godley, B.J., more

    The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unparalleled global impacts on human mobility. In the ocean, ship-based activities are thought to have been impacted due to severe restrictions on human movements and changes in consumption. Here, we quantify and map global change in marine traffic during the first half of 2020. There were decreases in 70.2% of Exclusive Economic Zones but changes varied spatially and temporally in alignment with confinement measures. Global declines peaked in April, with a reduction in traffic occupancy of 1.4% and decreases found across 54.8% of the sampling units. Passenger vessels presented more marked and longer lasting decreases. A regional assessment in the Western Mediterranean Sea gave further insights regarding the pace of recovery and long-term changes. Our approach provides guidance for large-scale monitoring of the progress and potential effects of COVID-19 on vessel traffic that may subsequently influence the blue economy and ocean health.

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