Over the last three decades the world has come to realize that the seas' living
resources are not inexhaustible and the oceans can no longer be treated as a
bottomless sink for pollutants.
More than economic resources are at stake when marine species begin to disappear
and coastal ecosystems are altered and degraded. Human well-being and indeed
our very survival depend on the health of the ecosystems in which we live. And
in nature, health and diversity are closely linked, since diversity allows living
things to adapt to changes in their environment.
We humans are, directly and indirectly, participating in an assault on the
Earth's biodiversity. Since about half of us live in the coastal zone, much
of that threatened biodiversity is found in the marine environment. Pollution,
habitat destruction, overexploitation of living resources, erosion and sedimentation,
and the intriduction of alien invasive species are taking a severe toll on coral
reef, mangrove and seagrass communities.
Throughout the Regional Seas people are seeing their coastal ecosystems polluted,
dredged, bulldozed, dynamited, silted over and converted. Habitat destruction
is perhaps the worst of all threats to the coastal environment. It leads to
the decline of innumerable marine species, including many on which traditional
fisheries and coastal livelihoods have long depended. Moreover, it can preclude
recovery and restoration of lost species, who no longer have a home until the
habitats themselves are restored a costly and often impossible task.
Because the reefs,
saltmarshes and mangrove forests act as natural breakwaters preserving coastlines
from buffeting waves, their destruction can lead to erosion, putting coastal
infrastructure at risk.
in the Regional Seas, and therefore receiving particular attention in the regional
Ecosystems and habitats
Read more in:
Fragile coasts (Our Planet 9.5 - June 1998) by Edgardo D. Gómez,
who outlines the threats to coral reefs, mangrove swamps and seagrass beds as
increasing coastal populations endanger the most productive parts of the oceans.
The Diversity of the Seas: a regional approach. Groombridge, B. and Jenkins,
M.D. (Eds.), World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1996. World Conservation
Press, Cambridge, UK. 132 pp. Link