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Shipping, pollution and overfishing have reduced areas of “wilderness” to just 13% of the world’s oceans, a study said on Friday, warning that untouched marine habitats could completely vanish within half a century.

International researchers analysing the impact of human activity on underwater ecosystems have mapped the dwindling zones considered pristine.

The bulk of remaining ocean wilderness, classed as “mostly free of human disturbance”, was found in the Arctic and Antarctic, and around remote Pacific islands.

Just 5% of the wilderness areas are in protected zones, leaving the rest vulnerable, according to the study published in the journal Current Biology. University of Queensland researcher Kendall Jones said that even ice-covered places were becoming accessible because of climate change.

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