Coastal Zone Management
What is a coastal zone?
For all the vast miles of open waves, for all the leagues of deep, dark water, some of the most important waters are those within several hundred miles of the coasts.
A coastal zone is often described as the coastal ocean and the land adjacent to it. Despite its relatively modest surface area, the coastal zone is one of the most geochemically and biologically active areas of the biosphere. For example, it accounts for at least 15% of oceanic primary production, 80% of organic matter burial, 90% of sedimentary mineralization, and 50% of the deposition of calcium carbonate. It also provides 90% of the world fish catch and its economic value has been recently estimated to comprise at least 40% of the total economic value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Additionally, coastal areas contain large amounts of biodiversity. However, this region is changing rapidly under human influences; about 40% of the world's population lives within 100 kilometers of the coastline. As a result, our goal is to create solutions that would mitigate the effects of these negative influences on coastal habitats and wild fish stocks. (Gattuso et al. 2007)
In this section, we will treat the coastal zone primarily as the freshwater bodies that drain directly to the sea, the land area influencing those water bodies, and waters on the continental shelf, especially estuarine waters (where salt and freshwater mix).
What is the problem?
The hydrosphere on earth is a constantly changing, dynamic system; water flows, evaporates, condenses, is stored, and is absorbed. Events in one waterway affect downstream waters and the ocean. The impacts of coastal zones on marine ecosystems and fisheries are profound not only because of the incredible biodiversity and biomass in coastal waters, but also because of the various ecosystem functions that coastal areas perform. Coastal and estuarine areas are often critical spawning and recruitment grounds; damages to the ecosystem and to fisheries there can have wide-ranging effects on populations elsewhere. Furthermore, many fish migrate upstream into fresh waters to spawn (anadromous fish, like shad) or live in freshwater and spawn in the ocean (catadromous fish, like eels); changes in water quality or physical habitat can destroy these populations by decimating their ability to reproduce. The connections between freshwater, estuarine, and marine areas are many and are not yet fully understood. However, we do know that creatures require food, water, and a place to live for survival.An organism's habitat must include all of these things. Without an environment in which its basic needs are fulfilled, an organism cannot survive. As such, our group proposes to maximize habitat and water quality in these areas so as to minimize fish mortality from environmental factors.
There are several classes of problems that affect habitat quality and fisheries. They include:
- Point source pollution
- Non-point source pollution
- Obstructions to migration
- Habitat destruction or alteration
- Invasive species