Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management
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Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management

Concepts And Practices

Biliana Cicin-Sain,Robert Knecht

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eBook - ePub

Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management

Concepts And Practices

Biliana Cicin-Sain,Robert Knecht

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Biliana Cicin-Sain and Robert W. Knecht are co-directors of the Center for the Study of Marine Policy at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware and co-authors of The Future of U.S. Ocean Policy (Island Press, 1998).

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Island Press



Chapter 1

The Need for Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management

Introduction: The Coasts—Unique, Valuable, and Threatened

The place where the waters of the seas meet the land—the coasts—are indeed unique places in our global geography. They are unique in a very real economic sense as sites for port and harbor facilities that capture the large monetary benefits associated with waterborne commerce and as locations for industrial processes requiring water cooling, such as power generation plants. The coasts are highly valued and greatly attractive as sites for resorts and as vacation destinations, and they are valuable in many other ways as well. The combination of freshwater and salt water in coastal estuaries creates some of the most productive and richest habitats on earth; the resulting bounty in fishes and other marine life can be of great value to coastal nations. In many locations, the coastal topography formed over the millennia provides significant protection from hurricanes, typhoons, and other ocean-related disturbances. Hence, for most coastal nations, the coasts are an asset of incalculable value, an important part of the national patrimony.
But these values can be diminished or even lost. Pollution of coastal waters can greatly reduce the production of fish, as can degradation of coastal nursery grounds and other valuable wetland habitat. The storm protection afforded by fringing coral reefs and mangrove forests can be lost if the corals die or the mangroves are removed. Inappropriate development and accompanying despoilment can reduce the attractiveness of the coastal environment, greatly affecting tourism potential. Even ports and harbors require active and informed management if they are to remain productive and successful enterprises over the long term.
Beyond these values, and perhaps more important, the coasts are home to more than half of the world’s population. Two-thirds of the world’s largest cities are located on coasts and populations of coastal areas are growing faster than inland populations. For example, World Bank experts estimated in 1994 that two-thirds of the population of developing nations would be living along coasts by the end of the twentieth century (WCC 1994).
The presence of large and growing populations in the world’s coastal areas creates major problems. In developed countries, needs are generated for ever larger sewage treatment plants, expanded landfills for the disposal of solid waste, and increased recreational facilities, to mention only a few. In developing countries, with less infrastructure in place, more people in the coastal zones means more pollution of coastal waters, more pressure on nearby natural resources (for example, mangrove forests for firewood and beach sand for construction), and more pressure on fishery resources. Clearly, the tendency for ever greater numbers of people to migrate to the world’s coasts is exerting serious pressure on these areas that could put the value and productivity of many of them at risk. Unless effective steps to manage these areas are taken soon, losses of considerable consequence will occur.
But rational management of the resources of coastal areas is made complex by a number of inherent difficulties. Before the twentieth century, the oceans were used principally for two purposes: navigation and fishing. Except occasionally in the most congested ocean waters, conflicts between these uses were few and far between. Hence, traditional coastal and marine resource management has been characterized by a sector-by-sector approach. For example, fisheries have been managed separately from offshore oil and gas development, which is handled separately from coastal navigation. Yet these activities are now capable of affecting one another and do so with regular frequency. A second difficulty is that jurisdiction over various parts of coastal and ocean areas generally falls to different levels of government. The local government may control use of the shore land down to the water’s edge and the state or provincial government may have jurisdiction over the territorial sea (typically extending 12 nautical miles from shore), with the national government having control over the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) out to a distance of 200 nautical miles. In some cases, the jurisdiction of the national government begins at the shoreline and extends to the outer limit of the EEZ. Many coastal and ocean uses can affect all these zones and thus require the involvement of as many as three levels of government. A third difficulty involves the complexity of the ocean itself—its fluid and dynamic nature and the intricate relationships of the marine ecosystems and the environments that support them.
As a consequence of these difficulties, the traditional single-sector management approach, though quite satisfactory in the days of few ocean uses, frequently does not produce satisfactory results today. For example, an offshore oil development program may lead eventually to oil production, but if the decision-making process does not adequately take into account the effects of this development on other ocean uses and resources, the costs of the offshore oil production to the coastal nation could be very large indeed. Similarly, fisheries management regimes that deal only with fish catches and the harvesting process, and fail to protect the habitats critical to the well-being of those fisheries, cannot succeed over the long term.
In this chapter, we discuss the major reasons why an integrated approach to the management of coastal and ocean areas is desirable, describe several types of ocean and coastal uses and their interactions, and provide examples of conflicts among various ocean and coastal uses and their environmental implications. These examples underscore the need for integrated approaches to coastal and ocean management, a subject we turn to in chapter 2.

The Need for ICM

As noted by L. F. Scura and colleagues, the coastal zone represents the interface between the land and the sea, “but concern and interest are concentrated on that area in which human activities are interlinked with both the land and the marine environments” (Scura et al. 1992, 17), as illustrated by figure 1.1. The coastal zone has the following characteristics (Scura et al. 1992):
  • Contains habitats and ecosystems (such as estuaries, coral reefs, sea grass beds) that provide goods (e.g., fish, oil, minerals) and services (e.g., natural protection from storms and tidal waves, recreation) to coastal communities.
  • Characterized by competition for land and sea resources and space by various stakeholders, often resulting in severe conflicts and destruction of the functional integrity of the resource system.
    Figure 1.1. Relationship between Coastal Zone and Coastal Resource System
    Source: Scura, et al. 1992, 17.
  • Serves as the source or backbone of the national economy of coastal states where a substantial proportion of the gross national product depends on activities such as shipping, oil and gas development, coastal tourism, and the like.
  • Usually is densely populated and is a preferred site for urbanization.
The coastal management system, in turn, can be thought of as a system of relationships among (1) people who live, use, or otherwise are concerned (in their beliefs or behaviors) with the coastal environment, (2) policy makers and managers whose decisions and actions affect the behavior of coastal peoples, and (3) members of the scientific community: natural scientists who study the coastal environment and social scientists who study human behavior in coastal zones (adapted from Orbach 1995). This system of relationships—the “cultural ecology of coastal public policy making,” as M. Orbach calls it—is depicted in figure 1.2.

Ecological Effects and Multiple-Use Conflicts: Why ICM Is Needed

The major reasons why an integrated approach is needed for managing oceans and coasts are twofold: (1) the effects ocean and coastal uses, as well as activities farther upland, can have on ocean and coastal environments and (2) the effects ocean and coastal users can have on one another.
Figure 1.2. Cultural Ecology of Coastal Public Policy Making
Source: Orbach 1995.
Coastal and ocean development activities (building of structures, mining, dredging, etc.) can significantly affect the ecology of the coastal zone and the functioning of coastal and ocean processes and resources. For example, development activities in beach and dune areas can change patterns of sediment transport or alter inshore current systems, and diking for agriculture can affect the functioning of wetlands through reduced freshwater inflows and through changes in water circulation. Similarly, industrial development in the coastal zone can decrease the productivity of wetlands by introducing pollutants, including heavy metals, and by changing water circulation and temperature patterns. Marine aquacultural activities in tropical areas often involve removal of mangrove forests to create aquaculture ponds, interfering significantly with the many functions mangrove systems perform, such as serving as buffers for coastal storms and nursery habitats for juvenile fishes. Activities such as port development and the dredging that inevitably accompanies it can significantly degrade coral reefs through the buildup of sediment. Activities farther inland, such as logging, agricultural practices (e.g., burning of cane sugar), and animal husbandry practices (e.g., pollution of streams by animal waste), represent important sources of damage to estuarine and ocean areas through increased flow of sediment, pesticides, and other pollutants int...


  1. About Island Press
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Foreword
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. List of Tables
  8. Table of Figures
  9. Introduction
  14. Appendix 1 - ICM Practices in Twenty-Two Selected Nations
  15. Part I: Developed Countries
  16. Part II: Middle Developing Countries
  17. Part III: Developing Countries
  18. Appendix 2 - Cross-National Survey and Respondents
  19. Cross-National Survey
  20. Glossary
  21. References
  22. Index
  23. Island Press Board of Directors
Estilos de citas para Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management

APA 6 Citation

Cicin-Sain, B., & Knecht, R. (2013). Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management ([edition unavailable]). Island Press. Retrieved from (Original work published 2013)

Chicago Citation

Cicin-Sain, Biliana, and Robert Knecht. (2013) 2013. Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management. [Edition unavailable]. Island Press.

Harvard Citation

Cicin-Sain, B. and Knecht, R. (2013) Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management. [edition unavailable]. Island Press. Available at: (Accessed: 20 June 2024).

MLA 7 Citation

Cicin-Sain, Biliana, and Robert Knecht. Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management. [edition unavailable]. Island Press, 2013. Web. 20 June 2024.