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Marine environment

Marine environment - European Environment Agency


Marine Environment

Integrated Coastal Zone Management

The need for an integrated coastal area management (ICAM) emerged from the conflicts among the different potential users of coastal areas. Tourism and fisheries, conservation and land development, and oil shipping and recreation are rarely compatible with each other.

Integrated coastal management has been defined as a continuous and dynamic process by which decisions are made for marine and coastal area management. The purpose of this process is to overcome the fragmentation that underlines both a sectoral management approach (tourism/oil shipping/fishing) and departmentalization among the levels of government (local/national/regional). The purpose of ICAM is to achieve intersectoral integration (e.g., among fisheries, tourism, offshore oil exploitation, and other activities); intergovernmental integration (among different levels of government); spatial integration (between the land area and the ocean side of the coastal zone); and the integration of science and management through more effective communication channels between managers and scientists; and, finally, international integration.

Nations vary with regard to the geographical extension of ICAM. Most states have yet to establish the landward boundaries of their ICAMs.With regard to the seaward boundary, some countries apply ICAM to their territorial sea, whereas others apply ICAM to their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well. ICAM develops in stages that involve identification and assessment of issues; planning and preparation; formal adoption and funding; and implementation, operation, and evaluation. The turf battles among the institutions that may have overlapping jurisdiction over coastal areas can hamper the development of ICAM. The establishment of a coordinating agency often becomes a priority for the implementation of ICAM.

Other issues to be considered for sound integrated coastal zone management include the level of development in a specific country, the concentration of population in coastal zones, and the political regime under which decisions are made. For ICAM to become successful, integration must not be a goal in itself; it cannot replace sectoral management but only supplement it. ICAM has been endorsed by international instruments, such as Chapter 17 of Agenda 21. A number of international and regional organizations also have adopted ICAM, such as the World Bank, the OECD, the FAO, the UNEP regional seas program, the UNESCO, the GESAMP, and the IMO.

ICAM has been developed in different areas of the world. It is practiced by 447 global, national, and subnational entities in at least 95 developed and developing countries and semi sovereign states. An international survey of forty-three ICAM projects, however, has found that only 12 percent of these projects are fully implemented.

ICAM has been applied with mixed success within the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) regime. The Coastal Areas Management Programmes (CAMPs) in the Mediterranean region have been guided by the Priorities Action Programme (PAP).

In the European Union, ICAM is referred to as Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). The Community has engaged in efforts to develop an ICZM. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has defined ICZM as a “dynamic, multidisciplinary and iterative process to promote sustainable management of coastal zones.” Many of the elements of ICZM are still in the process of being defined.

A distinguishing element between coastal zone management and river basin management is that whereas rivers could be shared by many states, coasts are clearly under an individual state’s jurisdiction. Despite this technical matter, however, it would be difficult to separate coastal zone management from river basin management in areas where rivers end up in the sea and affect coastal zones. Coastal zone management has been associated more with land-use planning and marine resources management. River basin management has been associated with freshwater management. But coastal zone management and river basin management cannot be neatly segregated. The UNEP-Water Branch and Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Center (PAP/RAC) that focuses on the implementation of the Mediterranean Action Plan is exploring the application of Integrated Coastal Area and River Basin Management (ICARM).


The international regime for the protection of the seas includes:

• A global “umbrella” convention that addresses pollution from all sources (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS]);

• Two international conventions concentrating on specific issues – sea dumping and pollution from vessels (London Dumping Convention and MARPOL Convention, respectively);

• A number of conventions concerned with the protection of regional seas;

• The Global Programme of Action (GPA)40 for controlling pollution from land based sources. The program is to help states to develop regional action plans and environmental impact assessments, but little specific action has been taken under the program.

Law of the Sea Convention

The UNCLOS was adopted in 1982 and entered into force in 1994. The convention concentrates both on the prevention of marine pollution and the protection of marine living resources. Part XII of the convention deals with the preservation and protection of marine environment but environmental provisions are dispersed all through the text of the convention. Some of the environmental provisions include granting to coastal states jurisdiction in matters relating to the protection of marine environment; the responsibility not to cause damage by pollution to other states and their environment; the need to prevent, control, and abate pollution according to each state’s capability; and particular sources of pollution with which states must be concerned, such as pollution from land-based activities, vessels, and the atmosphere. The convention provides that no dumping should take place in the territorial sea and the EEZ of a state without express authorization of that state and after deliberation with all other states that may be adversely affected.

The provisions for pollution control from land-based sources are not as specific. The convention provides that states must control pollution from land-based sources including rivers and pipelines. Statesmust minimize the release of toxic and harmful substances to the marine environment. More specific requirements are included to control pollution from vessels. States are not only to prevent and to control pollution from vessels but also to adopt routing systems that minimize the possibilities of accidents that cause pollution. States must adopt rules for ships that fly their flag in accordance with rules and standards that “at least have the same effect as that of generally accepted international rules and standards.” Because the convention does not define the international rules and standards, this clause remains somewhat indeterminate. Port states can adopt rules against pollution with regard to vessels that enter their ports or internal waters.

Coastal states are to combat vessel pollution from foreign vessels’ passage through their territorial seas, including vessels that exercise their right to innocent passage. States can adopt regulations, in accordance with international rules and standards, with regard to the protection of the environment in the EEZ area, as the convention has enlarged the jurisdiction of states to include the EEZ. Pollution from sea-bed activities is expressly recognized in the UNCLOS. At this point, pollution from sea-bed activities does not exceed 1 percent of the total pollution, but this may change in the future, depending on the intensity of seabed exploitation. States must prevent pollution of the marine environment arising from or connected with sea-bed activities under their jurisdiction and from artificial islands, installations, and structures under their jurisdiction. As mentioned in Chapter 2, sea-bed activities beyond the national jurisdiction of states are regulated by the International Seabed Authority. The Council of the International Seabed Authority must not approve sea-bed exploitation when substantial evidence indicates a risk of serious harm to the environment. In 2000, the International Seabed Authority adopted Regulations on the Prospecting and Exploration of Polymetallic Nodules, which include provisions on the protection of marine environment. In addition to the UNCLOS, other conventions concentrate on the protection of sea-bed, including the 1989 Protocol Concerning Marine Pollution Resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf in the Arabian Gulf Region56 and the 1994 Protocol Concerning the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution Resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil (1994 Madrid Offshore Protocol).

Flag states play a primary role in enforcing the UNCLOS provisions. The enforcement power of flag states on ships that carry their flag is well recognized in international law, as ships are considered an extension of a state’s territory. The enforcement authority of the coastal state is a newer concept in international law. It emanates from the belief that an extension of a state’s jurisdiction (property rights) beyond its territorial sea would be beneficial for the protection of marine environment. Today, coastal states have significant enforcement powers in their EEZ when a violation results in a discharge causing a major damage or threat of damage to their coastline or related interests. In those circumstances, the coastal state can even arrest an offending vessel. But enforcement action by coastal states is subject to a number of safeguards. Because coastal states are often port states, it may be easier for such states to exercise their jurisdiction when ships are in their ports rather than to pursue them in the high seas.

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