Community-based management of coastal ecosystems
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Community-based management of coastal ecosystems

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  • Description:
    Coastal areas and their surrounding communities face an increasing number of threats to the health of their environments and ways of life, including loss of marine habitat, water pollution and impacts from climate change. Managing these challenges can be complicated and often involve different decision makers, social institutions, government agencies and members of the public that all have a stake in the outcome. In recent years, the proposed solutions to these management issues were approached on an ad-hoc basis that failed to recognize the full range of connections between physical and biological components of the ecosystem. If habitat was lost or water quality reduced, the resulting impacts to fisheries or marine organisms were not always fully appreciated. As these ecosystem relationships went underappreciate​d, so did the relationships between management entities. Instead of identifying overlapping issues and working toward common goals, agency efforts were often driven by individual mandates and uncoordinated activities that reduced efficiency and failed to respond to problems in a comprehensive way. Another obstacle was a lack of stakeholder input relating to management issues and processes to respond to those stakeholders. Members of the public that depend on coastal ecosystems for their way of life, such as fishermen, business owners and coastal residents, all have an immediate interest in how these areas are managed. When these parties are left out, it can result in negative impacts on management outcomes, ranging from public frustration and stalemates to formal legal action. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) of the marine environment takes direct aim at overcoming these issues. EBM is an approach to managing ocean and coastal areas that involves the wide range of people and institutions with a stake in coastal resources, and considers all the different functions and relationships of a particular ecosystem area. It is driven by the integration of all types of knowledge, information and people to minimize conflict and comprehensively manage coastal areas to overcome management problems of the past.
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