Basic info on Coastal Management

Importance of coastal zones to humanity

Coastal areas are some of the most productive and biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. Areas like wetlands, mangroves, estuaries and coral reefs not only support a huge variety of life, but also are the starting point of most oceanic food chains, and have a role of “nursery” for many species.

Thus, they are essential for maintaining marine biodiversity of the entire oceanic system. Coastal ecosystems also provide a range of services that benefit people around the world. They are critical to humans as a habitat, help replenish fisheries, bring in tourism and other business, and act as a natural wastewater filters. They have also been proven to act as natural barriers against erosion, but also against violent storms and tsunamis.

It is on coastal ecosystems that human impact is the most important. Coastlines and cities by coastlines are drawing in more people than ever before. Human activities inducing environmental problems on coastlines are increasing density of population on coasts, coastal constructions and development (urbanization, facilities for tourism, ports…), inland activities (agriculture, deforestation, industrialization, dams on rivers…), overexploitation of coastal living resources, and tourism impact.

The impact

The impact

The more people on coastal areas, the more pressure they impose both on land and sea. This has resulted in increased domestic and industrial effluent, more areas of landfill and erosion of coastlines due to infrastructure construction and coastal development. Natural landscapes and habitats are altered, overwhelmed and destroyed. Pollution alters life conditions; provokes loss of biodiversity, alteration of food chains and of all marine ecosystems. Lagoons and coastal waters are ‘reclaimed’, reefs are damaged by fishing or tourism, wetlands are drained, the floodplains around estuaries are built over and reduced, mangroves are cut down for wood or aquaculture. Fish stocks, fresh water, soils and beach sands are often overexploited. The consequences are : loss of food resources especially in developing countries ; water access problem ; health problems ; social and economic impact linked to a loss of benefits and employment (fishing industry, tourism, increasing costs of coastal management); etc.

Management and solutions

Management and solutions

The sustainable development of coastal areas requires the application of a suite of measures tailored to local, national, and regional circumstances. Coastal and marine problems need comprehensive solutions that take into account social, economic and ecological issues. For example, coastal tourism and population relocation are major contributors to the economic value derived from a nation’s coastal environments and also to growth-related impacts on marine resources. Well managed, it brings many economic, social, and cultural opportunities. Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) offers a framework for integrating environmental, economic, social, cultural and public health interests in the interests of sustainable development. The goal of an ICM strategy is to coordinate all coastal zone uses and activities, in both public and private sectors, according to an agreed-upon set of resource management policies and practices. Without an integrated approach, it can be difficult to effectively manage development.

Sources and links

on coastal management

Facts and figures

about coastal management

What we can do about

coastal management issues ?