What is the Environmental Impact of Shipping?

A cargo ship in the ocean.
A cargo ship in the ocean.

Just like other industries, the shipping industry also has several detrimental effects on the environment. Being associated with water, most of these effects cause damage to marine flora and fauna and that indirectly affects humans. The shipping industry also contributes significantly to air pollution. A few of the adverse effects of this industry on the environment are as follows:

Sound Pollution

Noise produced by ships often travels long distances and interferes with the normal behavior of marine species like whales that rely on sound for their activities.

Oil Spillage

Oil spills into the ocean have devastating effects on marine life. Oil remains on the surface of the water blocking the diffusion of oxygen into the water. This kills numerous marine life. Seabirds also get stuck in the oil as they swoop down on the water to catch the dead fish resulting from the oil spill. The birds also die a painful death.


Human wastes loaded with harmful microorganisms enter the waters through the sewage discharged by the ships into the water.

Loss Of Marine Life

Whales, manatees, and other large marine fauna are at risk of collisions with ships. Collisions with ships moving at high speeds can definitely kill or injure such marine animals.

Emission Of Greenhouse Gases

Ships also contribute to air pollution. The combustion of fuels releases great volumes of smoke and dust into the air. Many of these gases are greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change on Earth.


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