Cargo ships negatively impact the marine environment in a number of ways, including through the release of pollutants, animal strikes, carbon emissions, and the distribution of invasive species throughout the globe.
- Cargo ships release a number of pollutants into the ocean, including oil, sewage, and other chemicals in wastewater, such as cleaners, grease, and food waste that can negatively impact marine organisms. Ships also generate a significant amount of noise pollution, which can harm organisms that rely on sound for navigation and hunting.
- Marine animals are at risk of being struck by cargo ships, which can cause injury or death.
- Cargo ships release carbon emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change.
- Ships deliberately take on water into the bottom of the boat as a means of stabilizing the ship while at sea, called ballast water. Ballast water is usually taken on in coastal regions. This water contains animals and plants that are then transported by the cargo ship to a new location. When ballast water is released from a ship, species contained in ballast water may become established in a new habitat, potentially becoming invasive.