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Coastal and marine areas: Latin America and the Caribbean

The key environmental problems facing the coastal and marine areas of the Latin American and Caribbean Region are related to habitat conversion and destruction, pollution produced by human activities and overexploitation of fisheries resources. The underlying causes of these problems are linked to the development of coastal areas for tourism, infrastructure and urbanization, and to the conversion of coastal habitats for uses such as agriculture and aquaculture. In addition to diminished natural productivity of coastal areas, most coastal and offshore fisheries are severely overexploited. These problems are expected to be significantly exacerbated by climate change and sea-level rise (UNEP 2000), particularly in the Caribbean. The state of coastal areas throughout the region is illustrated in the table on the right. Coastal areas that are heavily populated and exploited require intensive management and infrastructure to sustain coastal ecological systems. However, complicating coastal zone management are multiple physical and political jurisdictions dividing ecological boundaries and scales.