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Coastal Zone Development and Management
Ricardo P. Babaran

The availability of abundant resources and its accessibility encourage migration and human settlement in the coastal zone. This explains the heavy concentration of people in such areas, creating demands such as the establishment of support facilities and the conversion of coastal regions for various purposes, which affect the ecosystem. The coastal zone includes the entire watershed and extends down to the edge of the continental shelf. This definition is adopted to show that the zone’s development and management may be strongly influenced by processes or events well within the terrestrial zone or in the offshore zone.

The rising demand for food security by an increasing population, coupled with the growing concern over the globalization of the world’s environs and the tendency to link global trade with the state of the environment calls for a rational plan to develop and manage the vast resources in the coastal zone. For an archipelagic country like the Philippines, this is imperative considering the important contribution of the country’s coastal zone to the national economy.

There are various forms of activities that pose grave threat to the sustainability of resources from the coastal zone because they usually lead to environmental degradation. These include fishing, mariculture practices, establishment of coastal structures, operation of industrial plants and disposal of wastes at sea. Depletion of resources results from overexploitation, habitat change/loss, and genetic drift. Pollution is a major problem in areas where industrial and processing plants have been established. This reduces not only the aesthetic value of the coastal zone, but also brings about disease. Coastline change can also result from siltation, erosion, coastal denudation, and climate change. The concentration of facilities and activities in coastal areas bring about social issues like poverty, loss of livelihood, nutrition and health-related issues. All these activities whether related to the actual use or management offer diverse potentials for the University of the Philippines (UP) to act on.

UP should now take an active role in formulating an agenda for coastal zone development and management. The reasons for developing this agenda are as follows: (1) not much information has been gathered on the state of the coastal zone and its resources; (2) there is an increasing demand for trained manpower particularly in the coastal local government units; and (3) the apparent lack of direction in policy formulation.

To help manage or develop our coastal zone, UP could focus on studies that determine how much human activity should overlap with the environment. Recent initiatives have been pursued in UP in the Visayas to integrate coastal zone development and management as part of its graduate curricular offerings. For instance, there is now a course on the subject matter in the newly approved graduate curricular offering in the Ocean Sciences which will have its maiden offering in School Year 2000-2001. The Ocean Sciences program also incorporates other recent developments that are expected to become important niche study areas in this relatively new academic field during the first half of this century.