Coastal zones around the world are extremely vulnerable today because of the unprecedented pressures of industrial and urban development as well as climate change related devastations, such as the growing intensities of cyclonic storms, the rise in sea surface temperature, sea surges, and sea level rise. In India, where about 35% of the population lives within 100 kilometers of the coastline, fisheries are a major driver and safety net for economic development and coastal livelihoods. Coastal ecosystems are closely linked with socio-economic systems, which require carefully planned coastal zone management (CZM) actions.
To discuss the current status of work on CZM and to enhance India–European Union (EU) cooperation in dealing with coastal zone issues, an international workshop that was the third in a series, was organized by Nansen Environmental Research Centre India as part of the EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) project “Indo-European Research Facilities for Studies on Marine Ecosystem and Climate in India” (INDO-MARECLIM).
Postdocs and scientists with broad disciplinary strengths from India and the EU participated in the workshop, which addressed four thematic issues related to CZM: oceanographic facets, technological aspects, socio-economic issues, and governance. Speakers highlighted the advances in oceanography and technology that are employed for the benefit of coastal communities and disaster management. Alterations in the composition of coastal ecosystems due to climate change, pollution, overfishing, and erosion and the resultant socio-economic impacts were also discussed. Sensitive issues such as crossing national boundaries during fishing, fishing by multinational trawlers, the impact of tourism, and violations of coastal zone regulation were heatedly debated.
Round table discussions were designed to bring participants together on a common platform to discuss research gaps and to find avenues for future collaboration. A major outcome of the discussions was the plea for a multidisciplinary approach to coastal zone–related research. Future research should aim at technological and ecological solutions for coastal zone issues. Attendees emphasized the need to educate coastal and fishing communities through stepwise status assessment, awareness, and empowerment programs that are flexible in time and space and are acceptable to all stakeholders.
Another remarkable aspect was that issues such as pollution, fisheries, and erosion that were listed as the most pressing ones at an international workshop held in 1997 in Cochin, Kerala, continued to be the major problems of today, next to urban development and employment. These problems have to be understood within the context that an increase in the present fish catch and related income is not expected.
Workshop participants concluded that a better understanding of ocean dynamics and the application of technologies related to remote sensing and geoinformation services could be used to tackle coastal zone issues effectively. Ecotourism and ornamental fisheries were suggested as potential alternative income sources. Joint efforts by local, regional, and national research institutions, fishermen societies, and policy makers are required to bring about practically implementable legal frameworks for CZM.
—N. Nandini Menon, Nansen Environmental Research Centre India, Cochin, India; email: email@example.com; Tanya Singh, Climate Change and Adaptive Land and Water Management, Alterra, Wageningen, Netherlands; and Lasse H. Pettersson, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Bergen, Norway
Citation: Nandini Menon, N., T. Singh and L. H. Pettersson (2014), Integrated Research Approaches to Coastal Zone Management, Eos Trans. AGU, 95(49), 463, doi:10.1002/2014EO490009.