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Issues Addressed

Each country informed the Workshop on the key coastal-area issues of greatest concern to it. Brief summaries of each country report follow:

La Reunion
South Africa
Sri Lanka


Increased nutrient concentrations: The natural environment is highly oligotrophic, hence very susceptible to the impact of nutrients introduced as a result of human activities.
Habitat alteration and loss: Also due largely to human activities, notably construction.
Marine pests: Bio-invasions from ship ballast water and hull fouling are believed to have significant impacts on native species and biodiversity.
Contaminants:Also due largely to human activities, notably industry and domestic waste discharge.
Turbidity: There is decreased water clarity in the coastal zone.


Data: There is a scarcity of data on physical, chemical, biological, and geological parameters relevant to the coastal area.
Coastal pollution: This is mainly due to heavy metals, pesticides, oil, and oil spills.
Habitat destruction in the coastal zone: This is due mainly to human activities, including shrimp aquaculture.
Aquaculture: Shrimp fishing and aquaculture are very important; shrimp aquaculture is also very important.
Coastal flooding: This is a highly significant issue, with huge losses of human life and property.
Two pilot projects were suggested: a study of the Bay of Bengal, based on satellite data; a study of the coastal ecosystem using remote-sensing and in situ data, to evaluate the impact of aquaculture, pollution, coastal morphology and biodiversity.


Overexploitation of the marine environment: The best example is the coral-reef fishery.
Contaminants: This is mainly due to the discharge of human garbage.
Coastal erosion: Although due to natural causes, human activities, particularly sand mining, aggravate the problem.
Protection of endemic species: The most threatened species are the coelacanth and marine turtles; this is mainly because of the high scientific interest in these species, which sometimes promotes illegal trade.

The problems of Comoros are similar to those of other countries, but often have a different cause. The number-one driver of these problems is poverty. There is a need for models and scenarios for decision-making.


Biodiversity and habitat loss: There is a need to establish a baseline and a monitoring system, and to screen organisms for bioactive compounds.
Coastal erosion: There is a need to set up monitoring stations and to be able to model and predict natural changes; there is also a need to estimate the economic impacts of development.
Harmful algal blooms: An increased frequency of such blooms is observed; there is a need to identify the factors that trigger blooms and the bloom species.

For the adopted pilot projects, there is a need for a participatory approach, to be decentralised and to enable information to move from scientists to communities. For capacity-building, there is a need to focus on training trainers, and it must fit the culture of the country involved.


Habitat modification and loss of biodiversity: This is arising as a result of the development of marine fisheries, but some is due also to an increase in exotic species (possibly in tanker ballast water) and to growing aquaculture production.
Coastal erosion: This is due mainly to the alteration of river flows and the coastal flooding caused by storm surges and cyclones.
Water-quality degradation: This is due to point and non-point sources of pollution, particularly oil spills and nutrients.


Coral bleaching: This is widespread, but its impact is now being measured.
Pelagic fish distribution: Benthic species have been overexploited, so there is a need to identify new fish stocks for new fisheries, and to improve fishery management; for this purpose the acquisition of fishery data must be greatly improved. There are also use conflicts between coastal and trawler fisherman.
Coastal erosion: Sea-level measurements are being made at stations operating within the IOC Global Ocean Sea-Level System.
Harmful algal blooms: These are thought to be the cause of recent fish kills; a new program to study these blooms has been started.
Overexploitation of mangroves: This is due to the use of mangrove wood for building and for charcoal production.
Four pilot projects were suggested:

  • pelagic fish stock displacements with respect to the Indian Ocean monsoon
  • SST monitoring and the relationship between SST and coral ecology and fisheries
  • improved resource monitoring
  • capacity-building
  • Strong links between IOGOOS and GOOS-Africa are needed; joint modeling and data management projects might be a good starting point for this.

    La Reunion

    Degradation of marine ecosystems:This is mainly due to the pressure of human activities in the coastal zone and mostly affects the coral reefs, with a loss of biodiversity.
    Cyclones: These have a serious impact on the coastal zone due to the subsequent discharge of water and land-based contaminants, and coastal erosion, all amplified by the steep coastal topography and ill-adapted infrastructure.
    Coastal pollution:This is due mainly to groundwater seepage of sewage, agricultural herbicides and pesticides.


    Overfishing of some marine species: Sea cucumbers and coral-reef fishes are the principal species of concern.
    Degradation of the coastal ecosystem: This is due mainly to coastal erosion and estuarine sedimentation, and needs the development of a coastal ecosystem monitoring system.
    Coastal pollution: This is due mainly to uncontrolled waste discharge; it compromises the development of tourism and calls for the establishment of a coastal-zone pollution-monitoring system.
    Coastal desertification: An increase in the formation of dunes is observed in southern Madagascar.

    There is also a need to develop an oceanographic data collection system.


    Coastal erosion: The main causes are cyclones, sea-level rise, human activity, notably coastal urbanization and other hard coastal infrastructure. In Mauritius, 27 sites are affected, of which 7 are critical.
    Loss of biodiversity: A number of habitats are affected, notably mangroves, coral reefs (mainly by inappropriate fishing practices), seagrass beds, and wetlands. Fisheries are also a cause of biodiversity loss. Mauritius is trying to establish a Marine Protected Area to conserve biodiversity.
    Marine pollution: The main sources are land-based, notably sewage, agrochemicals, industrial wastes, oil spills, and nutrients. Sand mining has been a problem, but is now stopped. There is a significant impact of dirty ballast water from maritime shipping.


    Sustainable tourism: This requires conservation of beaches, so coastal erosion is very important here.
    Coastal pollution: There is a need to understand the impact of the high level of international shipping.
    Safety at sea: Many lives are lost by drowning, so there is a need to forecast sea state and to be able to issue warnings to coastal communities.
    Fisheries: Forty per cent of the Mozambican economy is based on coastal fisheries, so it is very important to understand the dynamics of the fisheries and the fish stocks. Illegal fishing by foreign fleets is a significant issue.

    There is need to improve infrastructure and institutional capacity; most institutions lack mandate and resources, human and material, to address the key problems.


    This small island has similar problems to those of Mauritius, although the causes are different; in addition, there is significant soil erosion.
    Thirteen sites are affected, of which 3 are critical.
    Harmful algal blooms do occur and there are fish kills that are often seasonal, but there is still no identified cause..


    Land reclamation: There is increasing sedimentation and, consequently, serious alteration of the coastal marine environment, leading to a drop in water quality, massive death of coral reefs, and loss of seagrass beds and of mangrove forests. Coastal erosion/accretion patterns are also strongly affected. There is a need to build capacity to deal with these issues.
    Oil pollution: There is a need to be able to map and model where spills will move. A World Heritage Park in the Seychelles needs to be protected from this risk.

    South Africa

    Overexploitation of inshore fish and invertebrate stocks: This occurs in the marine and estuarine environments; the abalone resource is especially affected and there is particular concern for endemic species associated with reefs. The region is usually oligotrophic.
    Impact of human activities in catchment basins: Water abstraction, changes in sediment transport due to retention by dams, increased soil erosion due to inappropriate agricultural practices, changes in water quality due to the addition or reduction of nutrients, industrial and agricultural runoff, and poorly treated sewage are the main impacts. Sand and coastal-dune mining also have a significant impact.
    Inappropriate coastal development:This consists principally of urbanization, infrastructure and industry, resulting in physical changes to the coastline, hence the loss or alteration of natural habitat and of biodiversity.

    All issues lead to the need for an ecosystem approach involving modeling on various spatial scales. South Africa has a new legal framework, which is assisting in reducing human pressures in the coastal zone.

    Sri Lanka

    A significant proportion of the population rely on subsistence fisheries, and these are adversely affected by:
    Coastal erosion: The main causes are sea-level rise, river sand mining, river dams, coastal structures.
    Coastal habitat loss: This is caused by changes in land use, pollution, destructive fishing practices, agricultural runoff, algal blooms, sand mining, and freshwater runoff.
    Coastal pollution : This includes principally nutrient runoff from the land, and sewage, industrial and solid waste discharge.


    Degradation of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity: The ecosystems mainly affected are coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangroves. The degradation is due to overfishing and improper fishing methods, and overexploitation of the mangroves; coral bleaching is also prevalent.
    Coastal erosion: This is increasing as a result of sea-level rise, destruction of the mangroves, and destruction of the coral reefs by dynamite fishing.
    Pollution of inshore waters: This is due mainly to the improper discharge of wastes. A community-based monitoring program was presented as a possible solution.


    Overexploitation of fisheries resources: This is now widespread, covering key benthic and pelagic species, with one important consequence being the adoption of illegal fishing methods (e.g., explosives and poisons).
    Degradation of coastal ecosystems: Thailand has lost 50-80% of its mangroves in the past 50 years as result of coastal construction, prawn farming and coastal agriculture. Coral reefs in the Andaman Sea have suffered the impacts of offshore tin mining (which causes excessive water turbidity), sand mining (which causes excessive sedimentation and water turbidity), logging, and destructive fishing methods. Seagrass beds have also been lost as a result of inappropriate fishing practices, of sedimentation due to inappropriate agricultural and coastal-engineering practices, forest clearance, and urban runoff.
    Coastal erosion: This is due to natural storms and coastal construction.
    Coastal water pollution: This is mostly due to effluents from coastal industries, urban wastes, oil spills, and tarballs.