Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 1063–1082 | Cite as

Impacts of pollution on marine life in Southeast Asia

  • Peter A. Todd
  • Xueyuan Ong
  • Loke Ming Chou
Original paper


Pollutants, originating from both land and sea, are responsible for significant lethal and sub-lethal effects on marine life. Pollution impacts all trophic levels, from primary producers to apex predators, and thus interferes with the structure of marine communities and consequently ecosystem functioning. Here we review the effects of sediments, eutrophication, toxics and marine litter. All are presently major concerns in Southeast Asia (SE Asia) and there is little indication that the situation is improving. Approximately 70% of SE Asia’s human population lives in coastal areas and intensive farming and aquaculture, rapid urbanization and industrialisation, greater shipping traffic and fishing effort, as well as widespread deforestation and nearshore development, are contributing towards the pollution problem. As SE Asia encompasses approximately 34% of the world’s reefs and between a quarter and a third of the world’s mangroves, as well as the global biodiversity triangle formed by the Malay Peninsular, the Philippines, and New Guinea, the need to reduce the impacts of marine pollution in this region is all the more critical.


Coral reef Eutrophication Mangrove Marine litter Seagrass Sediment Toxics 



Many thanks to Lian Pin Koh and Navjot Sodhi and for inviting us to write this article. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support & contributions of the Singapore-Delft Water Alliance (SDWA). The research presented in this work was carried out as part of the SDWA’s Marine & Coastal Research Programme (Theme 2): “Dredging and infrastructure development near critical marine ecosystems” (R-264-001-001-272). We also thank Christina Belle for proof-reading and input; and the reviewers for their comments and constructive criticism. The Marine Biology class of Spring 2009 kindly provided many useful references.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Biology Laboratory, Department of Biological SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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