Assessment of Impacts

Impacts of Disturbance and Degradation

Pressures on coastal systems are growing more intense. As rapid development and population growth continue in coastal areas, increasingly heavy demands will be placed on the natural resources and remaining natural habitats along the coasts. Unless corrective measures are taken, environmental degradation and over-exploitation will erode marine and coastal biological diversity, undermine productivity, and intensify conflicts over the increasingly scarce resources of the coastal zone.
 
Some of the most important present and potential threats to marine and coastal biological diversity are:
  • alteration and loss of habitat,
  • chemical pollution and eutrophication,
  • global climate change,
  • invasions of alien species, and
  • over-exploitation of living marine and coastal resources - some species are even in danger of becoming extinct.
 
Mariculture production, for example, is growing worldwide at the rate of about 5 to 7 percent annually. On an industrial scale mariculture may pose several threats to marine and coastal biodiversity due to, for example, wide-scale destruction and degradation of natural habitats, nutrients and antibiotics in mariculture wastes, accidental releases of alien or living modified organism resulting from modern biotechnology, transmission of diseases to wild stocks, and displacement of local and indigenous communities. A precautionary approach should, therefore, be applied to any mariculture development.

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