Improving coastal protection
WOR 5 Coasts – A Vital Habitat Under Pressure | 2017

The art of coastal management

Die Kunst, Küsten zu verwalten © Fernando Moleres/laif

The art of coastal management

> Divergent interests give rise to conflicts time and time again in the course of comprehensive coastal protection. However, if all stakeholder groups can agree on a sustainable management plan, this often generates considerable benefits for all.

The significance of coasts – a question of perspective

The world’s coasts are diverse. Some are popular as holiday destinations and have remained almost unspoilt. Others, located on important shipping routes, have been heavily developed industrially. Then there are coastal re­gions that are significant for small-scale fisheries. These supply large quantities of fish from which millions of ­people earn their living; on the other hand, they are often used as a natural water-purification plant for the effluents of a growing coastal population. The significance of the coasts in traditional or indeed religious respects varies ­greatly from culture to culture. And whether a region or a country considers the coasts as significant at all depends on all kinds of factors, but is most obviously reflected in active political measures for their protection.

International ground rules for the world’s coastal areas

Anyone who is permitted to use a coastal area in any way today is subject to clear international regulations through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which was adopted at the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea of 1982 and entered force in 1994 after arduous negotiations. It sets out the ground rules for all uses of the ocean, such as shipping, fishing, natural gas and oil drilling and environmental protection. The provisions of UNCLOS apply to all states and as a general principle in all zones of the ocean.
4.1 > Coastal states have exclusive rights within their exclusive economic zones (EEZ) to exploit marine resources such as fish. If certain conditions are satisfied they can even extend their EEZ to include part of the continental shelf.
fig. 4.1: Coastal states have exclusive rights within their exclusive economic zones (EEZ) to exploit marine resources such as fish. If certain conditions are satisfied they can even extend their EEZ to include part of the continental shelf.  © after GRID-Arendal
Nevertheless, it must be noted that different bodies are responsible for the implementation of the law in each of the various oceanic zones. Distinctions are made between the following coastal and marine zones:

TERRITORIAL SEA: The territorial sea is the 12-nautical-mile zone. It belongs to a state’s sovereign territory. Activities in this zone are governed by the legislation of the individual states. However, legislation must conform to the internationally agreed rules if the state has ratified UNCLOS.

EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE (EEZ): This extends from the outer edge of the territorial sea to 200 nautical miles (approximately 370 kilometres) offshore. Therefore the EEZ is also called the 200-nautical-mile zone. Included within the EEZ are the sea floor and the water column. Unlike the territorial sea, the EEZ is not part of a state’s sovereign territory. Nevertheless, within its own EEZ the coastal state alone may extract resources such as petroleum and natural gas, mineral resources, and of course fish stocks. Other nations may only use the resources if the relevant coastal state consents. Resource extraction in the EEZ is subject to the coastal state’s legislation, which in turn must be in line with the international rules laid out in UNCLOS. For other uses of the ocean, particularly shipping, the freedom of the high seas applies equally within the EEZ.
4.2 > The Banc d’Arguin National Park is an area of tidal mudflats and ­lagoons on the coast of the West African state of Mauritania. The national park is an important overwintering site for migratory birds which feed there to build up their fat reserves for the long flight ahead.
fig. 4.2: The Banc d’Arguin National Park is an area of tidal mudflats and ­lagoons on the coast of the West African state of Mauritania. The national park is an important overwintering site for migratory birds which feed there to build up their fat reserves for the long flight ahead. © Harald Woeste/
CONTINENTAL SHELF: The continental shelf is the gently or steeply sloping sea floor off the coast, which is a natural geological extension of the mainland. The term has both a legal and a geological definition. In the legal sense it denotes the area that extends to 200 nautical miles beyond the coastline, while in the geological sense, the term is synonymous with the shelf. The shelf referred to is the shallow, near-coastal section of the sea floor. The shelf slopes away gently to an average depth of 130 metres, and is adjoined by the continental slope which ­slopes more steeply up to 90 degrees. The continental shelf is of special economic interest because among other resources, large quantities of natural gas and oil can be found there. In many parts of the world there are regions where there is geological evidence of an outer continental shelf that begins within the exclusive economic zone and continues beyond the 200-nautical-mile limit, thus enlarging the coastal state’s sphere of influence. Such evidence must be submitted scientifically to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in New York, and accepted by that body. This outer continental shelf which goes beyond the EEZ can then be extended up to a line at a maximum of 350 nautical miles off the coast. Alter­natively a state can claim a marine area up to 100 nautical miles past the 2500-metre-depth line as an extension of the continental shelf past the limits of the EEZ, and in some cases even beyond that.

HIGH SEAS: Adjoining the EEZ are the high seas, which no national government may claim for itself alone; they are available to be used by all countries. Nevertheless, the use of resources in the high seas is regulated. Fisheries, for instance, are regulated by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) which, among other issues, specify maximum catch sizes for fish species. In contrast, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is the sole body that supervises the use and distribution of seabed resources. It is responsible for all mineral resources on the sea floor. These are defined in the Convention on the Law of the Sea as common heritage of mankind.

National-level regulations

Whereas UNCLOS sets out clear international regulations on the use of the various marine zones and thereby defines whom the ocean or the coastal waters belong to, the management of the 12-nautical-mile zone is the sole province of the coastal state concerned. Consequently the administrative details are regulated differently from one nation to another (and, in federal countries, sometimes even from one federal state to another). For the management of coastal waters this means a considerable need for coordination between different authorities.
How many different authorities can be involved in coastal administration can be exemplified by the administration of the German North Sea coast, which borders onto the German states of Lower Saxony, Schleswig-­Holstein and Hamburg. In Lower Saxony alone the responsibility for the coastal sea is shared between the following authorities or bodies:
  • Water and Shipping Authorities: These are subordi­nate to the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and are responsible for the safety of shipping in the coastal sea and on the federal waterways of the rivers Elbe, Weser and Ems, which are under the control of the German federal government. Among their tasks are the siting and servicing of navigational aids and the maintenance of bank reinforcements as well as locks and weirs along the federal waterways. Responsibility for nature conservation along the banks of the federal waterways rests with the subordinate nature conservation authorities of the district authorities, provided that these areas are not part of a national park or a biosphere reserve.
  • Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection: The ministry is responsible for the natural areas along the coast that have biosphere reserve status. Biosphere reserves are model regions initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the aim of achieving sustainable development in environmental, economic and social respects.
  • Lower Saxony Water Management, Coastal Defence and Nature Conservation Agency (NLWKN): This ­agency is subordinate to the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection and is responsible for coastal defences on the islands belonging to Lower Saxony; the authority cooperates closely with the dike associations. In addition, the NLWKN is responsible for nature conservation in part of the dike forelands – in the salt meadows for example.
  • NNational Park Administration: It is subordinate to the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection and is responsible for the ­Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park, and beyond this, for the dike forelands located within the bounds of the national park.
  • Main Dike Associations: These are public-law bodies which are responsible for the safety of the dikes that defend the full length of the mainland coast. The dike associations have a long tradition, going back several hundred years in some cases. They were founded by the residents of the different coastal municipalities and to this day consist largely of a voluntary workforce. The president of a dike association bears the title of “dike reeve” (Deichgraf). In the 1960s several dike associations were merged, leaving a total of 22 Main Dike Associations controlling and improving the dikes along the Lower Saxony coastline.
  • Lower nature conservation authorities: These are subordinate to the respective districts and are responsible for natural areas along the coastline that are not part of the national parks.
Even just the example of Lower Saxony shows what a proliferation of responsibilities there can be in one German federal state. In Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, by comparison, there are differences of detail in the regulations and the official structures. This diversity is explained in large part by Germany’s federalist system, but is also an example of how the management of an entire coastal area can only function when there is clear coordination and division of work between the different authorities. For example, over the years it can be deemed a success that the German Wadden Sea as a whole has been designated as a protected national park in spite of the disparate responsibilities across federal state boundaries. Beyond this, the responsibility for infrastructures of supraregional importance such as the federal waterways rests with a single body – the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. However, experts also emphasise that the division into different authorities can have advantages. They point out that within the different authorities there are large numbers of experts who possess important detailed and specialist knowledge, be it on coastal defences or nature conservation or regarding waterway safety.
4.3 > Responsibility for the maintenance and safety of federal waterways like the river Elbe, pictured here, rests with the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, whereas the dikes protecting the hinterland are cared for by dike associations.
fig. 4.3: Responsibility for the maintenance and safety of federal waterways like the river Elbe, pictured here, rests with the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, whereas the dikes protecting the hinterland are cared for by dike associations. © Kaiser/laif

Many demands – many conflicts

Coasts have many functions and provide many ecosystem services – such as fish, navigable waterways, tourism and recreation, or space for agriculture and construction projects. That is to say, countless activities are concentrated on the relatively slender strip between land and sea in densely settled or heavily used coastal regions – which automatically results in a plethora of responsible autho­rities.
This plurality can easily lead to conflicts if there is not sufficient coordination between the respective authorities or among the different stakeholder groups generally. For example, human use often comes into conflict with nature conservation aspects. In China the desire for economic development led to substantial pollution of coastal areas. In order to catch up with the high economic standards of the West as fast as possible, often very little attention was paid to environmental aspects. Today there is growing resistance to such a one-sided focus among the Chinese population, and it is being realized that goal conflicts have surfaced which can only be resolved by rising above the mere satisfaction of particular interests. Not just in China but in many other regions worldwide, such stringently sectoral approaches are preventing efficient protection of coastal habitats or sustainable use. The situation is even more difficult if coastal habitats extend beyond national borders, as the Wadden Sea does, for example, in Ger­many, the Netherlands and Denmark. Here an effective coastal management scheme is only possible in international cooperation.
4.4 > Many coastal areas are subject to a large number of use interests with regard to the land and the coastal ocean. The coordination of all these interests can normally only be achieved by means of an elaborate coastal management process.
fig. 4.4: Many coastal areas are subject to a large number of use interests with regard to the land and the coastal ocean. The coordination of all these interests can normally only be achieved by means of an elaborate coastal management process. © after Meiner

All parties around the table

An appropriate concept for the sustainable and comprehensive management of coasts was presented for the first time in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro: Inte­grated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), the aim of which is sustainable development of coastal zones and which seeks to reconcile all aspects of coastal development. To this day many countries and international communities – for example, the European Union – have made ICZM the guideline for planning future coastal development, defined as follows: “Integrated Coastal Zone Management seeks, over the long term, to balance the benefits from economic development and human uses of the Coastal Zone, the benefits from protecting, preserving and restoring Coastal Zones, the benefits from minimizing loss of human life and property, and the benefits from public access to and enjoyment of the Coastal Zone, all within the limits set by natural dynamics and carrying capacity.” Although ICZM is acknowledged today as a tool for future coastal zone management, coordination of the particular interests of the different stakeholder groups remains the greatest challenge.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), nowadays there are a series of causal factors that result in the exploitation or degradation of coastal habitats rather than their sustainable use. These include:
  • large business enterprises geared towards quick profits, which exploit or destroy resources and which conflict with the interests of the coastal population;
  • a shortage of serious governmental follow-up measures for the support and implementation of nature conservation programmes;
  • low awareness among local people and policy-makers about a form of management that relies on sustainable resource use;
  • poverty which is exacerbated by the increasing scar­city of resources, damage to habitats and fish breeding grounds and a lack of alternative livelihoods;
  • strong population growth.

Good management delivers benefits

This conflict potential can be defused, the FAO notes, if all these aspects are taken into consideration as part of an integrated coastal zone management scheme, and ICZM programmes, once drafted, are actually implemented in full. According to the FAO approach, ICZM programmes can benefit countries or individual coastal regions in the following ways:
  • Facilitating sustainable economic growth based on natural resources;
  • Conserving natural habitats and species;
  • Controlling pollution and the alteration of shorelands and beach fronts;
  • Controlling possible pollution in watersheds that drain into the coastal region;
  • Controlling excavation, mining and other construction impacts on coral reefs and on the near-coastal sea floor generally;
  • Sustainable use of overused resources so that these can recover, such as fish stocks and other marine organisms;
  • Providing mechanisms and tools for equitable and sustainable resource allocation among the various ­stakeholder groups;
  • Quicker and more focused implementation of projects by involving all stakeholder groups, because this averts later disputes that might delay a project;
  • Avoiding damage to the marine environment or ­marine resources.
Furthermore, a comprehensive ICZM programme today must address more than just the immediate shorelands and coastal waters but also the multifarious relationships between the coast and the hinterland – be it for the creation of sales markets for new, sustainably harvested products, or with regard to preventing land-based pollution of coastal waters. The FAO emphasises that this list represents the ideal form of ICZM and that in today’s world not all the goals of ICZM projects will be achieved in every case. Nevertheless, the ICZM idea has gained traction in many places.
Depending on the number of use interests, an Integrated Coastal Zone Management process can vary in its complexity. If only individual or a handful of user groups are involved, the overall process is generally more streamlined. This may be the case in coastal regions of developing countries, for instance, where artisanal fishery is the main feature and few other types of use exist. In the meantime, successful examples exist from which much can be learned.

fig. 4.5: Ideally an ICZM process takes place in cycles, during which measures are planned, implemented and then evaluated. If optimization is found to be needed, the next cycle begins with the planning of new measures. © after GESAMP

4.5 > Ideally an ICZM process takes place in cycles, during which measures are planned, implemented and then evaluated. If optimization is found to be needed, the next cycle begins with the planning of new measures.

Optimization through quality control

Regular monitoring of whether certain measures have resulted in a set objective is of crucial importance for a successful ICZM process. This also means that ICZM is not a one-off project but a cyclical process in which results are continually reviewed and assessed. Thus it is also possible to adapt the ICZM process little by little to new conditions and optimize it. An ICZM cycle begins with an analysis of the situation and assessment of the problems. This is followed by the drafting of an action plan that takes account of all the issues. Next, the action plan is formally approved by all parties involved. A prerequisite for this, however, is that financing is pledged for the ­complete set of measures from the action plan. This is ­followed by the implementation phase. Once the measures defined in the action plan have been implemented, an evaluation takes place which assesses the measures to determine their impact. If further problems or new difficulties arise, the action plan must be refined. This completes the cycle.
Depending on the scale of an ICZM process, the duration of a cycle may vary. Best-practice examples show that one cycle of an ICZM project on a national scale, from situation analysis to evaluation, takes around eight to twelve years. If the process only encompasses a certain coastal region or a single coastal town, one cycle lasts around three to four years on average.

Bringing local people on board

Depending on the situation in the given location, various stakeholder groups must be involved in the ICZM process. The following successful examples will make this clear.
In the year 2000 the Locally-Managed Marine Area Network (LMMA) was founded in the Indo-Pacific region, the marine region that encompasses the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. This network was first instigated by the work of non-governmental organizations and indivi­dual, well-networked scientists, and could ultimately be established in the region. Its objective is to protect coastal waters by making use of them sustainably and prudently – for example, if fishers switch from destructive dynamite fishery to gentler methods of catching fish. The LMMA idea was born from the insight that marine protected ­areas (MPAs) that are defined at high political level are often not accepted by the population because they can massively curtail their rights. In concrete cases the population was completely prohibited from fishing in MPAs, which could not be reconciled with the local people’s traditional customs. The local people resisted the prohibition on use, which undermined marine protection in the areas concerned from the very start. In the meantime many village communities in different countries now belong to the LMMA network, and have regular opportunities to engage with each other at regional, national and international workshops. The supreme objective of the LMMA is marine protection.
It differs from the idea of MPAs in that grassroots groups are given a voice during the planning phase and take charge of sustainable management in their locality themselves. Thus, all stakeholder groups are involved in the planning: village communities, associations of land­owners, nature conservationists, representatives of regional or national authorities who live locally, with scientists on hand to provide advice and backup.
4.6 > A self-painted sign for a self-administered protected area. The ocean around the island of Vanua Levu, which belongs to Fiji, was declared a locally managed marine area (LMMA) in a comprehensive management process. Here the local fishers themselves ensure sustainable use of the fish and seafood.
fig. 4.6:A self-painted sign for a self-administered protected area. The ocean around the island of Vanua Levu, which belongs to Fiji, was declared a locally managed marine area (LMMA) in a comprehensive management process. Here the local fishers themselves ensure sustainable use of the fish and seafood. © Stacy Jupiter

Extra Info The long road to the Wadden Sea World Natural Heritage site

The problems are similar in many coastal areas of the Indo-Pacific region. In many places the marine biotic communities and natural resources are being harmed by overfishing, by destructive fisheries such as dynamite and ­cyanide fishery, by pollution or by industrial activities on land. The coral reefs in the region suffer additional degradation from being trampled by tourists and damaged by anchors or by the removal of corals for sale as souvenirs. It is important that the local population can retain its sovereignty through the LMMA process by participating in deciding, in consultation with other stakeholder groups, which fishery methods they should use in future. Also as part of the planning process, alternative activities need to be developed whereby local people can secure their ­incomes in future. Compliance with the agreed rules is overseen either by local chiefs, traditionally organized ­village communities or else the local coastal fishery authorities. As a rule, some territory is also defined during the LMMA planning process where a complete prohibition on use applies, which guarantees that stocks of the marine organisms subject to use can recover. In this respect the LMMA idea certainly comes close to the principle of the MPAs. In summary, the LMMA approach pursues the ­following objectives:
  • Improved quality of the marine habitat (coral cover, sea grass, mangroves);
  • Increased fish population, and hence improved ­reproduction of fishes and higher fish biomass;
  • Increased incomes resulting from the use of marine resources;
  • Enhanced capacity of the local population to manage their resources;
  • Stronger sense of environmental stewardship and community cohesion.
Since the various village communities in coastal regions are now connected with each other via the network, best-practice solutions can easily be passed on. Since the year 2000 a series of LMMA projects have been carried out successfully – including in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines, on the Solomon Islands archipelago and on the islands of Fiji, Pohnpei and Palau. Since the individual regions are often small, however, some national governments are not highly motivated to allocate ministry or civil service resources to support this type of engagement. Since coastal areas are significant for the local people’s food supply, in certain cases in-situ projects are most likely to be initiated by non-governmental organizations.

Sustainable management in China: combining conservation and use

A range of comparable projects are taking place around the world which, while they do not designate themselves LMMAs or conform to that specification in every detail, nevertheless all have the same objectives, namely that local people are granted a kind of ownership over the marine resources and that these resources are managed by the community. China, for instance, has been trying for some years to reconcile the conservation and use of ­marine areas. Here as elsewhere, experience has shown that rigidly defined marine protected areas (MPAs) are not accepted and hence tend to be ignored. For that reason, since 2005 China has been designating what are known as special marine protected areas (SMPAs), in which zones are opened up seasonally for different uses such as fishery or tourism. Other zones in turn are barred from any kind of use.
A study has recently been undertaken to assess how effective this system is. To that end, interviews were ­carried out with advocates and critics of the SMPAs policy. The findings show that SMPAs can be considered as a complement to standard MPAs but are no substitute for them. Depending on the situation, either complete protection of a marine area or an SMPA solution might be appropriate. What clearly emerges is that consultation of the different interests during planning distinctly reduces conflict and boosts acceptance of the conservation zones within the SMPAs. Critical remarks have been voiced that so far there has been no scientific backup research to analyse whether the protection objectives are being achieved. One reason for this is the failure to fund such scientific work. An evidence-based evaluation as specified for ICZM processes, for example, first needs to be firmly anchored in the Chinese SMPAs concept. Overall, the current study finds that the SMPAs concept is assessed as a worthwhile tool for marine conservation in China, and one that is likely to continue to gain in significance in future.

Nature conservation and tourism – (not) in conflict

For the protection of coastal habitats it is indispensable to restrict certain forms of use. For example, the problem with tourism is that often precisely the most valuable and near-natural habitats exert a special attraction for holidaymakers because of their original character: there may be extensive dunes and beaches, or wetlands that are inviting to bathers or of special interest to birdwatchers because of their species diversity. Drawing the boundaries between zones used for tourism and the protected areas is difficult in this situation. This explains why in many European ­coastal regions, two environmental directives have led to an especially large number of conflicts between authorities, conservation organizations and other stakeholder groups: the Birds Directive of 1979, the purpose of which is to conserve wild species of birds, and the Habitats Directive of 1992, aimed at the conservation of various natural habitats together with the wild animals and plants living in them. When these directives were adopted, every EU member state was obliged to transpose these provi­sions into national law and to designate corresponding protected areas in its own country.
Findings of a study on conflicts between tourism and nature conservation in coastal areas of Germany that are especially popular among tourists suggest the following conclusions: conflicts arise mainly when the parties to the conflict were not in dialogue prior to the designation of protected areas. Where protected areas were simply im­posed by the responsible authorities and the population was faced with a fait accompli, this led to great resistance not only among tourists but also among tradespeople, retailers and farmers.
One of the criticisms from tradespeople and from tourism associations was that the designation of conservation areas creates the necessity to steer tourist flows, which requires a major effort, particularly in large-scale protected areas. Paths through the protected areas must be fenced on either side and car parks set up at the margins.
There is also criticism that in many places, during the first phase of designation of the area, members of the public are not adequately notified, informed, and hence taken seriously. The approach taken by many administrations, merely to have focused on the EU directives without having communicated the advantages and opportunities, was seen as a particular mistake. Consequently there was a widespread public perception of being affected by measures imposed from the top-down without having any influence. For the future, the study therefore suggests the following measures:
  • Negotiations and consultations with the responsible organizations in each case (tour operators, municipalities, sporting associations) in order to develop ­common solutions, for example coordinating the sche­duling of guided hikes, designating car parks or moorings for boats and canoes;
  • Well thought-through action plans for visitor infor­mation and education, particularly by maintaining a comprehensive network of rangers and information ­centres and by means of information boards;
  • Communication of the quality of an area on the basis of existing natural assets and the need for protection with the perspective of developing new business models, such as ecotourism.

The recipe for success: involving citizens from the outset

A successful example of an ICZM process in the tourism sector is presented by the coastal defence measures that were undertaken in the two German Baltic Sea municipalities of Scharbeutz and Timmendorfer Strand between 1999 and 2011, after a study had shown that these were severely threatened by flooding. Both municipalities are densely settled and intensively used for tourism as holiday destinations. A feature of these locations is a long shore­line promenade providing open access to the Baltic Sea and following a course between a parade of shops and small businesses on one side and the beach on the other. Both places are located in a bay in which the water level can rise significantly in the event of a strong easterly wind. An economic valuation analysis found that at water levels of more than 3 metres above mean sea level, severe flooding can occur. This would pose a threat to up to 6000 people and material assets of more than 3.4 billion euros. The municipalities therefore decided to construct a coastal defence dike with financial support from the district authority and the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein. The local community put up resistance right from the start because it was feared that such an embankment would destroy the aesthetics of the promenade, which could ­ultimately damage the tourist trade. For this reason the population’s involvement was sought in subsequent ­planning – firstly via information material which explained the issues at length, and secondly through ­par- ticipation in public meetings, where more than 50 people from the local population and the administration ­discussed various solutions which ranged from dispensing with ­coastal defences altogether to the maximum-intervention solution of constructing the dike.
A combined solution emerged from this participatory process: a flood abatement scheme that would be taste­fully adapted to the local circumstances. By refraining from constructing the dike, it was possible to retain the character of the promenade completely. While the structural works were in progress, public tours of the construction site were held fortnightly on a Saturday in order to inform people about the current progress of the works and address unanswered questions.
A significant measure of success was that the scheme delivered altogether more aesthetic coastal defences. In one section, for example, it was decided not to fell trees and instead a steep storm-beach was installed, with additional breach protection in the form of an unobtrusive wall about half a metre high. A recreational footpath now runs between the low wall and the row of trees. Overall this approach succeeded in gaining a high level of acceptance of the coastal protection scheme, which now even en- riches the visual appearance of the promenade thanks to the high quality of project execution.

Extra Info Large marine ecosystems

The concept of large marine ecosystems

ICZM always becomes a particular challenge when coastal areas and habitats are so large that they extend to several countries. Comprehensive protection of these areas is only possible if the countries cooperate on such matters as ­marine pollution or the management of fish stocks. In the 1990s, researchers at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) therefore developed the concept of large marine ecosystems (LMEs). Under this system, today the Earth’s near-coastal marine areas are classed into 66 LMEs, each of which is distinguished by a typical flora and fauna. LMEs are defined along coasts and extend to the continental slope, the part of the sea floor where the continental shelf drops steeply into the deep ocean. The main difficulty is that for successful coastal zone management it is necessary to realize transboundary cooperation on different levels. Firstly, the individual states must consent to high-level cooperation between national governments. Secondly, the responsible sectoral authorities and the local administration must be involved to ensure that the local coastal population can actually be included in the transboundary cooperation. The conservation of larger fish stocks, for example, is only feasible if the new rules for sustainable fishery are put into practice by all fishers and authorities throughout the LME.
With the support of the World Bank, the Global ­Environment Facility (GEF, an international institution for the financing of environmental protection projects) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), efforts are being made principally in developing and newly industrializing countries to improve international cooperation over the protection of the LMEs. Researchers and politicians as well as members of the general public from neighbouring nations meet up at workshops and conferences. Since economic aspects such as marine oil drilling often take priority over conservation of the environment, the concept of the LMEs is aimed at providing a counter­balance and creating awareness within the countries of the ocean as habitat.

A fledgling network for protection of the Bay of Bengal

One example of successful cooperation is the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME), within which the coastal states of the Bay of Bengal to the east of India work together: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Within this area, the BOBLME project was launched in 2010 for a planned five-year term. Its aim was to manage fish stocks more effectively in order to tackle overfishing, and additionally to combat marine pollution. A comprehensive analysis of the local situation was the first item on the agenda. The many different local, regional and national responsibilities had to be clarified and joint work priorities defined. These in turn depended on the hardships or needs reported by the people in the given localities. For example, fishery is administered by different authorities in every nation, sometimes by fishery offices and sometimes by economic authorities, so it was first necessary to locate the relevant contact partners, who were then put in touch with one another at international conferences and workshops. A further objective of the project was to survey the status of the various fish populations. In this respect there was a large gap in knowledge because in many countries it had been some long time since research ships had last undertaken regular estimates of fish populations. In Myanmar, for example, no such census had been carried out for the last 30 years. With support from a Norwegian research ship, population estimates were carried out for the entire bay. Thanks to these estimates, for the first time a management recommendation could be made for the region to ensure sustainable catches of the economically important Indian mackerel and Hilsa herring. In order to be able to monitor fish populations and the state of the marine ­environment in future, scientific working groups were also formed with researchers from all coastal states so that they could cooperate in future on matters relating to fish population statistics, the monitoring of marine pollution and on ecological studies in the Bay of Bengal. In addition, the working groups compiled best-practice solutions for sustainable fishing in the region and will attend local workshops and present these methods to other fishers, who will adopt them. In 2015 the BOBLME project came to an end. Since then gradual introduction and implementation of the fishery practices and management recommendations developed during the project term have continued in every country.

fig. 4.11: Die Schnecke <em>Concholepas concholepas</em> ist in Chile eine beliebte Meeresfrucht. Für ihren Fang wurden räumlich begrenzte und von einzelnen lokalen Kooperativen verwaltete Fischereiterritorien entlang der chilenischen Küste eingerichtet. © https: ©// illustrationsdez00lesso

4.11 > The mollusc Concholepas concholepas is a popular shellfish in Chile. To harvest them, geo­graphically delimited fishery territories administered by ­individual local cooperatives were established along the Chilean coast.

Conservation through regional self-governance

For the sustainable use of coastal areas, it can be sufficient for a single affected group of users to change its behaviour. For instance, this is true of artisanal fishery in various ­coastal regions, which can be practised under new management methods in such a way as to make prudent use of fish stocks. One example is the Chilean loco fishery. Locos are sea snails of the species Concholepas concholepas, the very popular Chilean abalone, which are har­vested from the sea floor along the coast by divers. Fishery biologists refer to fisheries like these as “S fisheries”, a term derived from the categories “small-scale fisheries”, “sedentary stock” and “spatially structured”. Spatially structured means that a number of geographically sepa­rated populations exist at various sites within one region. The danger with S fisheries is that these populations will be over­fished locally.

In the past that is precisely what happened in Chile. Once one population had been harvested to exhaustion, the fisher-divers moved on to the next area. This led to conflicts with the resident fisher-divers in each new location, because it increased pressure on the population in their locality. At the end of the 1980s, loco stocks had shrunk to the extent that loco fishery was in crisis along the whole of the coast. Many fishers lost their livelihoods. The Chilean government therefore instituted a new management system in 1991, whereby spatially delimited fishery territories along the coast and corresponding locality-based cooperatives of fisher-divers were established. The cooperatives based in the area were thus granted exclusive rights of use as well as self-governance. These areas with territorial use rights are called Management and Exploitation Areas for Benthic Resources (MEABR), or in Spanish, Áreas de Manejo y Explotación de Recursos Bentónicos (AMERB). Another phrase in general use is MEABR management. Internationally this type of local management is referred to as territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs).
This territorial fishery use right was only granted if the fisher-divers organized themselves into cooperatives and then, with support from experts, drew up a management plan for future prudent use of the loco population in a certain territory – for instance with regard to the maximum daily quotas for permitted extraction from the ­marine area. These quotas were then allocated among the individual members of the cooperative. Fisher-divers from other coastal areas and cooperatives were excluded from extraction in this area. As an additional benefit of organizing themselves into cooperatives, the fishers found themselves in a better negotiating position vis à vis middlemen. Most of the fisher-divers previously used to fish for locos and sell on their catch alone, whereas now they could ­collectively negotiate a price for the shellfish.
4.13 > In future, the breeding of algae could become established in many parts of the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific as an alternative to fishing. Algae breeding has the advantage of low costs because very little is required in the way of equipment and materials.
fig. 4.13: In future, the breeding of algae could become established in many parts of the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific as an alternative to fishing. Algae breeding has the advantage of low costs because very little is required in the way of equipment and materials. © https: ©// File: ©Seaweed_farm_uroa_zanzibar.jpg (Stand: © 08.2017)
fig. 4.12: A fish market in Bangladesh. Hilsa herrings are the main product on sale, and are especially popular here in the Bay of Bengal region. After years of overfishing an international project has finally succeeded in developing a responsible fishery management regime for the entire Gulf. © Fernando Moleres/laif

4.12 > A fish market in Bangladesh. Hilsa herrings are the main product on sale, and are especially popular here in the Bay of Bengal region. After years of overfishing an international project has finally succeeded in developing a responsible fishery management regime for the entire Gulf.
The loco stocks did indeed recover, which was a successful result for MEABR management. Subsequently the principle went on to be adopted for other fisheries in ­Chile. Today around 45 benthic organisms, which include bivalves and molluscs but also algae, are fished according to MEABR management plans.
But not in every case was this kind of management successful. Sometimes populations have collapsed and the carefully designed MEABR strategy has become redundant. A notable reason for this has generally been that the population dynamics of certain organisms had not been sufficiently researched, and thus overfishing could still occur on the basis of mistaken estimates.

Alternatives to fishery

One strategy of ICZM projects today in developing and newly industrializing countries consists of developing alternative income-earning opportunities locally with the coastal population. In regions dominated by fishery, this can help to take the pressure off overfished stocks or ­overused marine habitats. An example in the Philippines and in Indonesia are projects in which the breeding of marine algae (seaweed) on long ropes was established as an alternative to destructive fishing with dynamite and cyanide. Algae breeding has the advantage of low costs because very little is required in the way of equipment and materials. Moreover, there is a growing global demand for algae, the majority of which is used for the production of carrageenan, a substance extracted from algae that is used in the food industry as a setting and thickening agent. The projects show that while algae production cannot replace fishing, in some places it led to a reduction of the quantities caught so that pressure on the ecosystem did indeed diminish. In other places fishing continued at the same intensity despite algae breeding. Not in every case could the local population be sufficiently convinced of the significance of resource conservation. Experts therefore emphasise that one sole alternative source of income is not always enough. Ideally it should be possible to present a certain plurality of alternatives in ICZM projects of this kind.

Too many cooks impede development assistance

For successful integrated coastal zone management in developing and newly industrializing countries it is essential to integrate all national and local stakeholder groups into the management process, but that is not all: consultation is also necessary between the various international and regional organizations for development ­assistance. That is by no means always the case. There are regions in which different organizations are active in neighbouring localities, sometimes even with the same priorities, without conferring with or knowing about each other. This gives rise to several drawbacks: Firstly, it is not possible to share the use of resources such as infrastructure, offices or vehicles. Furthermore, when ­different development assistance organizations pursue their projects in isolation from one another or fail to co­ordinate with development priorities locally, it pre­cludes the possibility of comprehensive integrated management whereby, for example, the drinking water supply, agri­culture and coastal protection are monitored simul­taneously. In unfavourable cases, results are ­achieved that are unsustainable or even counterproductive. To counteract these aspects and to increase the effectiveness of development assistance as a whole, in 2005 the OECD therefore adopted the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. This Paris Declaration pursues five essen­tial objectives in total:
  • Ownership: The partner countries, not the donor countries, exercise coordination and responsibility for every development process.
  • Alignment: Donors adapt their strategies and processes to those of partner countries and use existing institutions of the cooperation countries or the partner organizations.
  • Harmonization: Donors coordinate and harmonize their programmes and procedures among themselves.
  • Managing for results: Donors have their results measured in terms of the effects of their development policy action, such as reducing the illiteracy rate, and not their financial input, such as 10 million euros for new schools.
  • Mutual accountability: Donor and cooperation countries are jointly accountable to the public and their parliaments for their development policy actions and their progress.
Since 2012 these objectives, slightly modified in part, have been steered and further pursued via the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.

Kiribati leads by good example

Today the principles of the Paris Declaration are also being subsumed into integrated coastal zone management. An example is the Pacific island-state of Kiribati which comprises over 30 islands. The expanse of the island-state is vast. From west to east the nation extends over around 4500 kilometres, which is roughly equivalent to the distance from the west coast to the east coast of the USA. The people of Kiribati do not see themselves as inhabitants of a tiny island-state by any means, but as inhabitants of a large oceanic state boasting a tradition as seafarers in the Pacific going back thousands of years. Over the years many development assistance projects have been implemented but in many cases they did little to coordinate efforts with each other or to align their activities with na­tional development objectives. In accordance with the Paris Declaration, the government therefore decided to require greater cooperation between the individual development projects and that these should also take their ­guidance from national and local priorities. To this end, a strategy called the “whole-of-island approach” was introduced on Kiribati a few years ago. In this way the state and several international development organizations have now agreed to implement projects jointly, paying attention not just to sub-aspects but always to a whole island in each case with all its problems and challenges. This means that individual aspects – such as coastal protection or agriculture – are not considered in isolation from each other, but that solutions are developed for all domains of life at once and articulated in a development plan for the given island. What this contains in detail are measures promoting sustainable education, fishery, infrastructure, coastal protection, agriculture, energy, water supply and health. At the same time consideration is given to how the popula­tion can adapt to climate change.
Kiribati together with development assistance organizations wants to carry out analyses on all islands gradually in the next few years. Known as Integrated Vulnerability Assessments, these will be used to inquire into the population’s needs and study the impacts of climate change. Under a whole-of-island approach as with any typical ICZM process, cooperation with local people plays a decisive role, since this is the only way of ensuring that measures are implemented which people actually need and accept.
4.14 > The island state of Kiribati is endeavouring to protect its low-lying atolls from the ocean, partly with solid sea walls. But in many cases storm surges destroy the structures, as seen here off the capital, South Tarawa.
fig. 4.14: The island state of Kiribati is endeavouring to protect its low-lying atolls from the ocean, partly with solid sea walls. But in many cases storm surges destroy the structures, as seen here off the capital, South Tarawa. © Vlad Sokhin/laif

Taking the initiative on the island of Abaiang

On each of Kiribati’s islands there is a council of elders consisting of members delegated from every village. The council of elders is the first port of call for cooperation. As a first step the staff of the development assistance organizations accompanied by representatives of the various responsible ministries from the capital of Kiribati, South Tarawa, visit the islands in order to carry out interviews. In doing so they take pains to ensure that it is not just the all-male council of elders who have their say. Individual interviews are also held to survey the needs and opinions of all other groups within the population – and particularly of the women and young people. The results are aggre­gated into a representative profile of opinions on how the inhabitants imagine their future in ten or 20 years’ time. Talks are also held with representatives of the different local institutions such as the church or the police. The first island on which the whole-of-island approach is currently being put into practice is the island of Abaiang. With 5500 inhabitants it is relatively populous. A vulnerability analysis has recently been carried out. One urgent issue is the question of a reliable water supply because the islands of Kiribati possess very small water reserves in the form of freshwater lenses located in the subsurface and re­charged solely by rainwater. If too much water is extracted or rainfalls fail to materialize, but also if the sea level rises, salt water seeps in from the ocean and the water lenses become oversalinated. The freshwater lenses are subject to additional pollution caused by livestock or by fertilizers and crop protection products from nearby arable farms. To address these problems, water management on Abaiang is currently being improved. Further­more, arable farming is now practised at a sufficient distance from the freshwater lenses.
4.15 > For the island of Abaiang climate change is already a reality. According to a survey, the most obvious signs noticed by the inhabitants are freshwater scarcity, higher temperatures and erosion of the shoreline.
fig. 4.15: For the island of Abaiang climate change is already a reality. According to a survey, the most obvious signs noticed by the inhabitants are freshwater scarcity, higher temperatures and erosion of the shoreline. © Synthesis report, 2016. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
Another issue is the avoidance or disposal of waste. Traditionally the island’s waste, which used to be entirely organic, was deposited into the sea and transported away by the tide. In view of growing fractions of inorganic and toxic waste, this practice leads to considerable pollution of the ocean and environment and can result in substantial contamination especially of the freshwater lenses. Since the inhabitants obtain their drinking water from wells, the majority of which are heavily contaminated with germs, there are frequent cases of diarrhoea infections which mainly put children at risk. It has therefore been decided in accordance with the wishes of Abaiang’s inhabitants that a better sanitation infrastructure will now be built. Currently a similar analysis is being carried out for a second island.
Furthermore, certain challenges are the same for all the islands of Kiribati. Apart from water supply and sanitation, these consist primarily of coastal protection, over­fishing and declining yields in agriculture. Added to that is climate change, which strongly influences and con­siderably amplifies all these aspects. Today cumulative droughts are occurring on some of Kiribati’s islands, leading to water scarcity and creating difficulties for farmers. Since there is not a vast amount of agriculture on the islands in any case due to their relatively infertile soils, shortages in the food supply are likely to ensue. The plan is therefore to practice alternative farming methods on the islands in future and to pilot the production of different fruits. During the process, care will be taken from the outset to ensure that the local population sets itself realistic goals. In this way the ministry representatives clearly communicate that the management process cannot fulfil gratuitous demands to increase prosperity dramatically. It is hoped that this will prevent the arousal of unrealistically high expectations. Textende