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Critical Coastal Habitats

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 12:09 PM

Themes in Coastal Habitats: Critical Coastal Habitats





Coastal ecosystems encompass a broad range of habitat types, harboring a wealth of biodiversity. These rich environments provide critical habitat and spawning grounds that support an array of goods and services of direct benefit to humans. Globally, nearly two-thirds of all fish harvested depend upon coastal wetlands, sea grasses and coral reefs during various stages in their life cycles, and about 90 percent of the world fish catch is caught or reared along coasts.


These facts demonstrate why habitat protection and management are critical in all coastal management programs -- both national and local -- on which the Coastal Resources Management Program (CRMP) works. All CRMP management plans contain policies and objectives that address protection and restoration of critical coastal habitats.


Because coral reefs have particular importance to the coastal nations where CRMP is active, and because coral reefs have become a powerful symbol for coastal ecosystems worldwide, CRMP has carried out a number of special projects to contribute to the important global effort to sustain the planet's reefs. CRMP assisted Thailand to launch a national coral reef management strategy in 1992, and contributed to launching the International Coral Reef Initiative in 1994. CRMP has pioneered the development and use of socioeconomic and governance indicators that measure the human dimensions of coral reefs. In addition, when widespread bleaching of coral reefs occurred in 1998, CRMP examined the socioeconomic impacts of this phenomenon in the Asia Pacific region.





A community member holds a Crown-of-Thorns starfish on his paddle during a reef clean-up. CRMP programs routinely work to preserve reefs as valuable resources.



In addition to these special projects, CRMP programs routinely work to improve overall management of coral reefs. This includes developing practical approaches and guidance documents for resource users to monitor and solve typical problems --  such as anchor damage or Crown-of-Thorns starfish outbreaks. Important research -- both qualitative and quantitative -- has been carried out in the Philippines through CRMP's work to try to better understand the specific factors that make community-based, coral-reef marine protected areas successful.

CRMP also addressed mangrove protection issues, particularly in Ecuador and Central America, where the existing approach to their protection is in many instances doing little to slow trends of their removal or degradation. In Ecuador, the coastal management program promotes an approach that emphasizes the sustainable use of mangroves by local communities, and coordinated monitoring and enforcement of laws prohibiting conversion of mangroves into shrimp ponds and/or urban settlements. A special issue of the InterCoast  newsletter surveyed the status of management efforts in a diversity of settings. Most recently, CRMP field programs are developing bay management plans for Balikpapan Bay in Indonesia and Bahia Santa Maria in Mexico that highlight actions to promote mangrove conservation.







To avoid destructive practices such as clearcutting, CRMP promotes sustainable mangrove uses.



Coastal estuaries are highly productive, and play a crucial role in sustaining fisheries. Water quality degradation, user conflicts, and changes to the quantity and pulsing of fresh water flows into estuaries are major issues along every coast. Several CRMP programs have focused on estuary management, including Rekawa Lagoon in Sri Lanka, the lagoons of Nicaraguan Mosquitia and Bahia Santa Maria in Mexico.



RESOURCES: Critical Coastal Habitats


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