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.