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State of the Coastal Areas

The coastal zone is the transitional area between land and sea. The coastal zone is a band rather than a line. The width of the band varies from place to place and is determined by the interaction of marine and terrestrial coastal processes. The worldwide average width of the coastal zone on the terrestrial side is said to be 60 km. The zone occupies less than 15% of the Earth's land surface, yet it accommodates more than 60% of the world's population. Furthermore, only 40% of the one million km of coastline is accessible and temperate enough to be habitable. As a result, coastal zones are marked by above-average concentrations of people and economic activity.
  • Most of the world's coastal areas are polluted.
  • Pollution and development are changing coastal habitats. Feeding and nursery areas are being destroyed, reducing fish and wildlife populations.
  • Along some coasts, runoff enriches the water with too many nutrients, leading to oxygen-depleted water and fish kills.
  • The two most widespread and serious sources of coastal pollution are sewage disposal and sedimentation from land-clearing and erosion.
  • Coastal waters suffer from contamination from nonpoint-source pollution resulting in outbreaks of toxic algal blooms and red tides.
  • Coral bleaching results from warmer surface water temperatures attributed to global warming
  • Loss of coastal wetlands have been attributed to commercial and residential developments.
Comments, addtions and references to the above are welcome. Please send then to Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org
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