Coastal and marine water

Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 stresses the need for the protection of the oceans, all kinds of seas, (including enclosed and semi-enclosed seas) and coastal areas, as well as the protection, rational use and development of their living resources. The chapter covers the following programme areas:

- the integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas, including exclusive economic zones

- marine environmental protection

- the sustainable use and conservation of living marine resources of the high seas

- the sustainable use and conservation of living marine resources under national jurisdiction

- the addressing of critical uncertainties for the management of the marine environment and climate change

- the strengthening of regional and international cooperation and coordination

- the sustainable development of small islands.

A wide variety of human activity can affect the coastal and marine environment. Population pressure, increasing demands for space and resources, and poor economic performances can all undermine the sustainable use of our oceans and coastal areas. The most serious problems affecting the quality and use of these ecosystems are:

- the alteration and destruction of habitats and ecosystems

- the effects of sewage on human health

- widespread and increasing eutrophication

- the decline of living resources, such as fish stocks

- changes in sediment flows due to hydrological changes

- the impact of climate change, including rising sea levels (GESAMP, 2001b).