Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands


J. Calvo, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay


The EcoPlata Programme dates back to 1989 when a General Agreement on Co-operative Development between the Canadian and Uruguayan governments was signed. A research programme, named EcoPlata, began operating in July 1994, with as its main aim to understand the effects of environmental factors and human activity interacting in an important area of the Uruguayan coastal zone. A secondary aim was to strengthen and develop human resources in the scientific and fishing communities and prevent the depletion of natural resources.

“The Río de la Plata is a river located on the east coast of South America, covering an area of about 38,800 km2 and draining a 3,170,000 km2 basin (the second largest one in the continent)1. This drainage basin occupies part of the territories of five countries and it is surpassed in size only by the Amazon River basin. The natural and anthropogenic changes experienced in this basin, and their interaction with the surrounding sea, can potentially affect the most relevant characteristics of the estuary and hence will ultimately affect the lives of over ten million people living in the area.

This region has been recently affected by a series of radical changes framed within the global context of local opening and economic liberalization. At a more local level, a steady process of integration is evidenced in the economy through the birth of the economic union called MERCOSUR (Southern Cone Common Economic Market) which encompasses the two main countries in Latin America, Argentina and Brazil, and their two other partners, Uruguay and Paraguay, which have less economic and demographic weight.

There are important projects for investment in infrastructure which are associated with this process of integration, namely the building of a bridge over the Río de la Plata to connect the cities of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Colonia (Uruguay); a deep-water harbour on the Uruguayan Atlantic coast; the construction of the Buenos Aires – São Paulo (Brazil) highway; an increase in urban development on both sides of the river; a project to access the upper sections of the river for maritime traffic (Hidrovía). An increase in maritime traffic and tourism is also expected to bring increased potential for tourism. These coastal areas and the surrounding bodies of water are home to significant biodiversity which is threatened by the non-sustainable use of the area. In the management area the main problems requiring attention in a first approach are:


The first two phases of the EcoPlata Project (EcoPlata I and II) have been mainly oriented towards marine biology and oceanography. In July 1998 the participating institutions2 moved into a new phase: “Support for the integrated management of the Río de la Plata Coastal Zone” (ICZM), where social scientists became involved in the project. The practice of ICZM requires information from both the natural and social science fields, an open and participatory decision-making process with capacity for conflict resolution, as well as adequate communication with those involved at the private and public levels.

In a first approach, from July to November 1998, the EcoPlata Project undertook a diagnostic assessment to identify areas for pilot ICZM programmes. The School of Social Sciences of the University of the Republic investigated socio-demographic and socio-economic factors. Indicators were identified relating to population and environment, based on census data and in-depth interviews, and a public opinion survey yielded information on concerns and disposition of the population.  


After a year of collaboration between scientists from the social and natural sciences, the results are both positive and promising. A productive multidisciplinary dialogue developed. However, major problems relating to the multi-institutional dimension emerged:

  1. Institutional diversity
    Participating institutions came from different countries, with diverse aims, different organizational structures, as well as varying degrees of relation to the political power, e.g. the University of the Republic is autonomous in relation to the State, whereas SOHMA is a service dependent on the National Army.

  2. Conflicts between research and management
    The idea that research and management should go hand in hand was shared by all institutions; however, when the time came to develop concrete projects and interventions, the research/management conflict became evident.

  3. Structural organization
    The various participating institutions all have different structures and organizational arrangements. For instance, the high degree of autonomy of the University of the Republic researchers in the preparation and presentation of projects was not always compatible with the administrative methods of other institutions.  


The main innovation implemented in the new phase of the EcoPlata Project was the incorporation of social scientists, who came with their own aims and activities, and viewed their incorporation in the project as a positive symptom of a change which opened new paths into research and management. On the other hand, the natural scientists had not clearly specified what was required of the social scientists and did not understand their issues and methods. Because of this, the “social element” seemed to constitute a hazy field which needed demarcation. Some examples follow:  

  1. Some language problems:
    Although the expression “anthroprogenic effect” seemed to be the natural scientists’ catchphrase when referring to those issues related to the socio-economic aspects of the project, none of the social scientists involved in EcoPlata seemed to recognize, in that expression, a concept belonging to their field of study. The ensuing process of construction of a “common language” which would allow fluent communication between members of both disciplines, was the main stumbling block which the scientists involved had to overcome.  

  2. Budget problems (when the social sciences are not as economical as they seem to be): Stemming from a lack of knowledge of the methods required to explore the socio-economic aspects of the project, there seemed to be an underestimation on the part of the natural scientists of the costs involving in carrying out socio-demographic research.  


The preceding examples might prove useful for future collaboration. Conflicts between research objectives and management objectives still exist. However, the dialogue between institutions is better now than at the beginning of the project, and this is the result of the creation of an Inter-institutional Technical Group (GTI)3 which has served to avoid some of the conflicts between management and research.

Organizational problems were eventually overcome by an agent who did not belong to any of the participating institutions, but who had enough technical skill to merge the different proposals into one which would satisfy all those involved. The lesson to be learnt here is that the Inter-institutional Technical Group needed a General Co-ordinator who would at times play the role of referee, and who should preferably be an independent party with a high degree of political and technical authority to implement executive decisions.

A similar solution was found to back up the position of the social sciences in the project elaboration phases. Here, external agents, who did not belong to the participating institutions, and who knew of similar examples where the socio-economic contribution was beneficial to a project, were involved in the project.

Those conflicts, stemming from the absence of a common code of communication, as well as from the lack of knowledge about the aims and methods of the various disciplines, seem to be heading towards a positive resolution. Greater understanding between the different scientists resulted from various horizontal exchanges and seminars and interdisciplinary workshops. A healthy team spirit emerged and participants stopped seeing themselves as members of different scientific or institutional “clans” but rather as part of a cooperative project.  


Criticism can be directed at both natural and social scientists. Resource management agencies in many countries are exclusively staffed by natural scientists. Those responsible for management must be made aware of the need for social science expertise. After all, natural resource management is not so much management of resources as it is management of people. Social scientists, on the other hand, remain largely unaware of the role that social science has to play in resource management. Few social scientists work on resource-related issues and when invited to attend such meetings they are conspicuous by their absence.

A social science perspective may avoid the tendency for presenting project results in terms of cost/benefits analysis. Results must be productive but not disconnected from people. The identification of common goals among institutions is a way forward to co-ordinate activities between scientists of various backgrounds, so that they can approach issues with a complementary perspective rather than in a conflict modality. Issues in this difficult dialogue include how to develop a common language, successful communication, and adequate human resources. Persons with inter-disciplinary training often make very good mediators.

Finally, in some instances, science-based understanding of coastal environments would benefit from the “wisdom” of local communities.  

1. Lopez Laborde, J. Geomorphology and Geology of Río de la Plata, in P.G. Wells and G.R. Daborn (1998) The Río de la Plata, an environmental overview (page 1), Dalhousie University.

2. The EcoPlata Project is currently being developed within an inter-institutional framework in which the following institutions participate: Army Oceanography, Hydrography and Meteorology Service (SOHMA), National Fishery Institute (INAPE), National Administration for the Environment (DINAMA), Ministry of Housing, Territory and Environment, School of Social Studies and School of Sciences of the University of the Republic. As their Canadian counterpart, the project incorporates scientists from the University of Acadia, Dalhousie University, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Geological Survey. Canada’s International Centre for Research on Development (ICRD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNESCO through its Montevideo-based office and its Coastal Regions and Small Islands Unit (CSI) are also co-operating in the financial and organizational areas of the project.

3. An Inter-institutional Technical Group (GTI) meets on a weekly basis and works as a technical liaison among the various institutions, serving also as an interface among technicians and the project’s Board of Directors.



G. Cambers, University of Puerto Rico, Sea Grant College Program, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

A project entitled “Coast and Beach Stability in the Caribbean” (COSALC) has been active since 1985 and has as its goal to develop in-country capability so that island states can measure, assess and manage their beach resources within a framework of integrated coastal management. Three case studies on reconciling decision-makers with scientists are presented from Anguilla, Grenada and Montserrat.  


Wise management practice: promoting beach conservation and reducing shoreline erosion by placing new buildings a “safe” distance from the active beach zone.

Most construction inland, away from the beach, because of danger of sea flooding, salt spray and mosquitoes.
1980 present:
Advent of tourism and construction close to the beach and on primary dunes.
Passage of Hurricane Luis, a category 4 hurricane, extensive damage to coastal infrastructure and the environment.
Design of new coastal development setbacks using a new methodology incorporating historical shoreline change, hurricane impact and sea level rise. Incorporation of new coastal development setbacks into national physical development plan (plan still to be approved by political governance).
Implementation of new coastal development setbacks by Physical Planning Unit.
1997 present:
Extensive education and awareness campaign by Physical Planning Unit. Success of programme and awareness campaign indicated by the fact that there have been fewer appeals against setback decisions, as compared with pre-1995. 



Wise management practice: reduce shoreline and beach erosion by stopping beach sand mining and promoting the use of other building materials.

1950 1979
All construction sand obtained from beaches; gradual shift from wooden to cement houses; and erosion of beaches.
Passage of Hurricane David, serious erosion during the event and afterwards as a result of the hurricane rebuilding effort.
1980 1983:
Studies undertaken and management plans prepared to control sand extraction from the beaches.
1984 1989:
Beach mining continues as WMP is not implemented.
Passage of Hurricane Hugo, 70% of housing stock destroyed, again extensive erosion during and after hurricane.
1990 1992:
WMP again reviewed.
1992 1993:
New government formed and new sand crusher obtained.
1993 1995:
WMP implemented together with an extensive education and awareness campaign; inland sand sources identified for construction aggregate; sand extraction from the beaches controlled; and beaches begin to recover.
1995 1997:
Volcano crisis, half the population flees, other half move to the northern part of the island, considered “safe”. Some beach sand mining is carried out during this crisis, as the quarry and crusher are in the “unsafe” zone.
1995 1998:
WMP implemented in a different format as Montserrat temporarily imports sand for construction and investigates the use of the “new” volcanic deposits. 



Wise management practice: Changing attitudes to beach sand extraction.

1950 1998:
All construction sand obtained from beaches; gradual shift from wooden to cement houses; erosion of beaches occurs.
1985 1998:
Results from beach monitoring programme show the impact of mining on beaches.
1994 1997:
Several workshops and meetings regarding beach sand mining with government officials, politicians, contractors and public.
During a workshop several government officials suggested that senior administrators and politicians knew all about the problem but the political agenda was very different from the environmental agenda. A suggestion was made that the issues and concerns must be brought into the “living room” so that voters could influence the decisions made by elected officials.
Training workshops to provide persons from the environmental agencies and local broadcasting network with the skills and equipment to make short environmental videos to be shown on a frequent basis on the local TV station. 




Several examples were given of similar experiences of responses to coastal erosion/ natural hazard impact in other countries. In particular, the varying degrees of availability and enforcement of regulations was emphasized. However, it was felt that in some contexts, one should not wait for completely appropriate political conditions to be established. Rather community-based education on coastal erosion awareness should be developed. In other instances, governments do not carry out appropriate development in sensitive coastal areas, i.e. they provide a bad example by building in exposed areas and the local population then follows. It was concluded that lack of constructive political will could annihilate several years of awareness-building efforts in one day. 



P. Espeut, Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, Kingston, Jamaica  

The political context plays an important role in the management context. The Jamaican government has taken a wise decision to establish co-management of its protected areas. However, it was noted that not all practices are transferable.

The Portland Bight area of Jamaica is rich in natural resources, especially in the biodiversity of its flora and fauna as seen by the extensive wetland, seagrass and mangrove areas, wide coastal shelf and high endemic level. Portland Bight is also a multiple use area with many impacts: housing and marijuana plantations which destroy forests and increase agricultural runoff, land-use conflicts, over-fishing, and pollution by oil spills and sewage.

Management of natural resources must be treated as a social science and co-management adopted as the operative philosophy: top-bottom approaches fail and more horizontal approaches making reference to stakeholders are required. There is a need to develop co-management mechanisms such as co-management councils for fishermen, foresters, citizens, etc.; such councils should develop their own legal status and operating regimes.

An example is the Fishers Council, comprising 32 members, which issues permits, determines user-fees and fishing practices including regulations and penalties. Penalties were the hardest to negotiate (up to $100,000 or one year in prison). Established regulations are not yet laws, but game and fishing inspectors have been appointed – fishers who act as wardens to regulate other fishers. In addition, family ties influence people’s attitudes, a bad attitude is shameful to the rest of the family.

Once all these arrangements are in place, then and only then, the scientist comes in to provide the best available data and monitoring. The Portland Bay management plan calls for continuous monitoring of natural resources (e.g. botanical study, coral reef study, fish stock assessment, socio-economic study). Videos for public education can help transfer the experiences of such projects. 

N. Hinshiranan, Social Research Institute, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand  

The Moken people, the “Sea Nomads” of the Surin Islands in Thailand, have preserved their traditional way of life due to the protection afforded by their distance from more densely inhabited regions. Their area has been a National Park since 1981 and is about to be designated a World Heritage site. The area became popular with Thai tourists about 15 years ago. It is the best diving site in Thailand but still not much frequented by foreign tourists.

At present, the national park authority are concerned with the Moken’s extraction of certain species, e.g. sea cucumber, top shells, green snails, and other decorative shells which they gather for commercial purposes. Thus, the park authority exerts a ban on gathering these species. As a result, the Moken no longer have a source of income to buy rice and other necessities. The “Moken Fund” was set up by the park superintendent as a means to provide necessities for the Moken, but it was terminated due to some misunderstandings.

There has not been a definite policy about local people living in protected areas. The Moken existence in the Surin Islands is considered a “privilege” by some. Thus, the second phase of the Andaman Pilot Project has been carried out with three main objectives:

  1. To provide a forum for horizontal communication between different stakeholders and for identification of appropriate support from each party to keep the Surin Islands as the shared natural and cultural heritage.
  2. To encourage the Moken’s maintenance of “wise practices”, e.g. the use of appropriate technology.
  3. To ensure that tourism potential on the islands develops in a sustainable manner and to provide the opportunity for the Moken to participate in tourism activities so as to provide an extra source of income.

In November 1998, the project co-ordinators organized two meetings which brought together stakeholders of the Surin Islands to discuss relevant issues and to seek commitment and support from those concerned.

The first meeting “Identifying Participatory Sustainable Development Options for the Moken of the Surin Islands” was held in Bangkok as a brainstorming session for government officials, academics, and NGO workers to identify crucial issues leading to the strategic goal of sustainable development options for the Moken.

The second meeting “Towards the Strategic Goal of Sustainable Development for the Moken: Commitment and Support” was a participatory workshop, held in the Surin Islands, and attended by participants from the first meeting and the Moken representatives. The activities include the evaluation of the Moken’s potential in organising tourism activities and the confirmation of commitment and support by each party.  


The discussion briefly addressed the balance between the “carrot and stick” approaches to resource management. Local communities in Jamaica enforce their own regulations, even when offenders are members of family or friends, because their direct livelihood is involved. On the other hand, in the Philippines, even though fishers know when a practice is bad (e.g. dynamite fishing), they still implement the practice, hence the need for the “stick” approach.

These presentations raised the wider issue of conflicts arising from local populations having to adapt to external pressures from outsiders, e.g. Hong Kong companies operating in the North West Territories in Australia. In the case of the Moken people in the Surin Islands, even though they are partners in the conservation of the marine park, it is the park authorities who decide on the activities (selling crafts to tourists, acting as guides). The Moken cannot benefit from available funds to develop their own activities as they are not Thai nationals. In this respect, the sustainability of eco-tourism was questioned. In whose terms is it sustainable, especially viewing the particular impact on the local lifestyle?



H. Sangkoyo, School of Social Science & Planning, Melbourne, Australia  

Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is a large tropical megacity with a population of more than 20 million people. In the bay north of Jakarta lies a chain of small islands, the Pulau Seribu, which are heavily impacted by Jakarta’s activities. Since the 1980s, there has been a major influx of poor migrants into the Greater Jakarta area which has raised the population density significantly. Against a background of mass poverty and in the absence of critical basic services for many of the city’s residents, as well as absence of any strategic approach by the state to manage the environment or the economy, the spread effect of the fiscal crisis, which started in 1997, has dealt a serious blow to the region.

The high population growth rate, together with the expansion of Jakarta City, has led to serious pollution and over-exploitation of coastal and marine resources. This has included deterioration of the coral reefs, mangrove clearance for fish pond development, and pollution of Jakarta Bay from the sewage, sedimentation, agricultural and industrial effluents, and solid waste from the Greater Jakarta area.

In the islands, the Pulau Seribu, there are a variety of issues that need addressing. Some of the islands have disappeared as a result of dredging. The national park has no proper management; as a result the wildlife sanctuaries, although protected by law, are destroyed by development. The reefs are declining and so too are the fisheries on which many of the islanders depend for a livelihood.

State-based efforts have failed to solve these problems because of fragmented resource-use policies, inability to integrate policies and programmes, and insufficient land-use planning at the city and local levels. In addition, the suppression of political rights and the absence of basic rights for the local Kampong communities have compounded the situation.

The UNESCO-CSI initiative has tried to address some of these problems by focusing on community-based management, assisting some of the poorer communities to manage their resources and clean up the environment, and promoting changes in lifestyles through educational campaigns. Other collaborative efforts have also adopted a community-based approach by developing social safety nets and food-for-work programmes, an advocacy network against destructive fishing in the Pulau Seribu, and revision of the Basic Agrarian Law.   

H. Gaudi, landowner and former lecturer, University of Papua New Guinea  

From the perspective of a land owner and a social scientist, the author focuses on the environmental impact associated with the increased pressure from newly arrived people and investors in the Port Moresby area in Papua New Guinea, especially the effects on the Motu Koitabu coastal urban villages.

Papua New Guinea comprises 3,000 ethnic groups with two fifths (80) of the world’s languages. The Motu Koitabu are the traditional land owners of the cities. The arrival of migrants to the cities generates housing problems (40% are squatters) and in parallel creates competition for mangrove wood, which is now used as a building material, reducing its availability as firewood for the host population. The disposal of non-biodegradable garbage near houses is a cause of bad smell and creates conditions for the spread of typhus and cholera.

Coastal environments are also under threat from other wealthy outsiders who invest large amounts of money to reclaim coral reefs for the building of marinas.

Foreign demand for sea cucumbers (a delicacy on the Malaysian and Japanese market) depletes the resources, and locals invest in diving equipment to benefit from this lucrative activity. With no formal training many divers die from decompression and bombing.

The question is raised of why the Motu Koitabu people are not consulted on the developments that will ultimately have an impact on their lives. It was further noted that awareness campaigns are needed to help them make informed decisions.  


Several participants pointed to the importance of community participation in management. The example of oasis management in Egypt showed that people’s participation, especially women, is of paramount importance. This approach to the sustainable management of fragile ecosystems in the desert could be transferred to sensitive coastal areas. Demonstrating the short-term benefits of community-based involvement often has a snowball effect, wherein more and more people want to learn about ways in which they can benefit.

With reference to a lack of response from governments in the face of oil spills, it was suggested that local communities could find information on the internet about ways to cope with pollution instead of waiting for help from the authorities.

The lessons to be learnt from the unwise practices were discussed, e.g. destructive fishing in Samoa and mangrove depletion in Nigeria. Regarding fishing activities, reference was made to the positive impact of transferring responsibility for resource management to local population in Samoa, Chile and Mauritius. The importance of maintaining continuity with traditional fishing practices was also noted.  



S. Riad, Geology Department, Assiut University, Cairo, Egypt  

Establishing a marina in Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour is an important issue for UNESCO as it fits within its mandate to promote the integrated development and management of coastal areas. This includes, among other things, the need to conserve coastal (onshore and underwater) cultural heritage.

In response to the recommendations of the International Workshop on Submarine Archaeology and Coastal Management (SARCOM 97), organized by the University of Alexandria, the Supreme Council of Antiquities and UNESCO, in Alexandria, Egypt in April 1997, and upon the request to UNESCO by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, an evaluation mission recommended various actions to protect the area of the Citadel, Pharos Lighthouse underwater site and the Eastern Harbour.

The main objective for the future development of the Citadel and Pharos Lighthouse sites is to develop an integrated plan for their preservation and touristic use. In this respect it is sensible to incorporate into this plan the underwater archaeological site known as the “Palace of Cleopatra”, situated within the Eastern Harbour. All three sites are located in close proximity to each other and would favour the concept of a unique cultural theme park in the form of a combined “open-air and open-water” museum or marine archaeological reserve.

To determine the feasibility of establishing such a park, experts in environmental, oceanographic and archaeological fields were consulted. The underwater sites need to be surveyed using advanced techniques to obtain a precise overview of the distribution of the archaeological items. In addition, the current practice of discharging untreated sewage into the Eastern Harbour and other adjacent near shore sites is an obstacle to the development of sustainable tourism. It was recommended that UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) contribute to the development of an integrated urban water management plan for Alexandria, including the assessment of the wastewater problem.

Once the full cultural value of the archaeological sites has been established, a brain-storming task force with representatives from all interested organizations should be set up to work out a long-term plan. Implementation of this plan may eventually involve some offshore constructions and hence requires a comprehensive knowledge of the oceanography, geology and sediment dynamics of the wider region. Consequently, a carefully designed data collection programme should be implemented after a decision is taken concerning the future of the underwater sites.

The necessary data include:

Several actions were undertaken during the latter half of 1998. Two UNESCO consultants visited Cairo and Alexandria between September 11–18, 1998, to examine the following:

  1. The feasibility of establishing an underwater museum at the site of the archaeological remains believed to be the ancient Alexandria Lighthouse off the Alexandria coast near the eastern and western harbours in the locality of the Qait Bey Fort.

  2. A proposed strategy for the establishment of such a museum including different display alternatives and a management scheme for tourists’ access to the site.

A UNESCO consultant on hydrology was requested to evaluate and develop an integrated urban water management plan for Alexandria, including the assessment of the wastewater problem. He studied the impact of the urban water drainage from Alexandria on the project area. He pointed out that three outlets of untreated sewage water are now draining into the sea, one very near to the area of the project.

A roundtable meeting on “Underwater archaeology and coastal zone management of the Qait Bey area” (in Alexandria) was organized by the UNESCO Cairo Office in collaboration with the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Alexandria on 16 September 1998. The aim was to bring all concerned parties together in the presence of the two UNESCO consultants on underwater archaeology and the one on hydrology, to discuss their findings. Visits were also made to the site of the Qait Bey Fort, the underwater site next to it and the Roman theatre, where archaeological objects taken from the underwater site are housed.

Experts found that the site is of principle significance and is of unique importance on a global scale. It is feasible to establish a submarine museum on the site because of its proximity to the shore and to the other underwater archaeological remains in the Eastern Harbour. Also the Qait Bey Fort would be a convenient place to house support facilities and to function as an orientation centre for the proposed underwater museum; the fort could become a living museum in its own right. Experts stressed that the project cannot succeed without solving the sewage problem.

The UNESCO Cairo Office (UCO) and the Supreme Council of Antiquities agreed in principal to share the costs of the next step, including the collection of data required for the development of the project. It has also been agreed that at least one other roundtable meeting be held during December to discuss a draft plan of action being prepared by the UCO consultant.  

H.C. Dube, Department of Life Sciences, Bhavnagar University, Gujarat, India  


The Alang and Sosia Ship-Breaking Yard (ASSBY) is located on the coast of Bhavnagar district, in the Gulf of Cambay , 56 km south of Bhavnagar City in the state of Gujarat, India. The Gulf of Cambay is known for its high tidal range, which is around 10 metres. The vast expanse of intertidal zone gets exposed during ebb-tide which makes it convenient for ship-breaking activities, whereas the high tide makes it possible to accommodate big ships. Alang and Sosia combined boast the biggest ship-breaking yard in the whole of Asia. Today this activity is conducted in 182 plots around the year. ASSBY impacts different groups of people depending on their interests.

There are basically four interest groups directly involved in and affected by the ship-breaking activity. They are the Government of Gujarat through the Gujarat Maritime Board, the ship-plot owners, the workers or labourers, and the villagers in the ASSBY area.

All four interest groups have diverse cultures and sometimes conflicting interests. The wise practice in this case would be to create a common culture for a common future on the lines of sustainable development. 




ASSBY plot holders employ some 30,000 workers directly for ship-breaking activities. There may be an equal number of workers employed in ancillary activities. The direct workers are migrant labourers mainly from Utah Pradesh, Bihar, and Orissa. They are young men, almost 70% of them stay in rented shanty dwellings available near ASSBY. Most of them do not have potable water. Their monthly income from ship-breaking activities is around Rs. 3600 per person. This amount is on the high side for such manual, casual and hazardous work. The concerns of this labour group are:


There are around ten villages in the vicinity of ASSBY, each having a population of about 1,000 residents. All these villages are near or on the seashore and within a radius of 12 km from ASSBY. A majority of the people from these villages are from the “Koli caste” which is a socially and educationally disadvantaged group, popularly known as “bakshipanch” in Gujarat. Paleval (brahmin), Garasia (kshatria) and Kharak (agriculturist) are three other significant groups in these villages. The villages are part of Talaja taluka. Their main concerns are:


The interests of all the four concerned groups have to converge at one point and that point is sustainable development. A free dialogue and resultant understanding will help in evolving a common culture and a shared programme.

Apart from the above-mentioned groups, there are some peripheral groups who have a partial interest in ASSBY from their own vantage points. These groups are: people’s representatives, media persons and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 


Any awareness programme is not just an academic endeavour, it is supposed to bring the participants to a level of cognition, transfer information and form relevant attitudes or change attitudes. Furthermore, it should prepare participants to change the situation for the better and to prepare common ground where various stakeholders can interact and participate in the sustainable development programme


Given the universal cultural and historical significance of the site of the Alexandria lighthouse and the economic implications of tourism for Alexandria and Egypt at large, a major international effort appears necessary. In particular major sewage and engineering problems must be solved. It is estimated that no tourism project, such as an underwater marine museum, could realistically be developed before 10 years or so. A major constraint is to have agreement among all the stakeholders.

The issue of the ship-breaking/building impact on the natural environment and the population is also a concern in Bangladesh, especially the problem of knowing what the old ships carried (e.g. chemicals). There should be an assessment study of potential hazards and damages but this is an economic issue in developing countries where the industry completely controls access to shipyards. A major problem is indeed the awareness of population and availability of data. A possible solution may be to increase pressure on governments or to involve donors.

Some participants pointed to the different visions of sustainable development according to one’s own economic situation: rubbish in one area becomes resources in others.



P. Varghese Department of Education, Apia, Samoa 


In Samoa, the great majority of the population reside in and around coastal areas and have maintained a traditional way of life as subsistence farmer/fisher folk. Samoan culture and traditions are very strong and alive despite the conflicts between traditional and modern practices. The subsistence fishery continues to be crucially important to the majority of those living in rural areas.

Samoa is largely lacking in exploitable natural resources. The main industry, copra, failed in the 1980s because of the collapse in export demand. The economy of Samoa was severely affected by severe cyclones in 1990 and 1991. A catastrophic fungal blight in 1992 destroyed the nation’s staple food crop, taro. The cultivation of taro is still not possible without the use of fungicides.

The basic social unit in a village, the aiga (extended family), is headed by the matai (chief). Like most others in Polynesia, Samoan society had no central political authority or government. Political organization rests largely upon the village council in which the heads of the extended families and their chiefs join in dealing with local problems and order. 


Equitable fishing resource sharing is at the heart of traditional practices involving the whole or most of the community. Utilization of most resources was carefully controlled and protected by taboos and folklore. The socio-cultural conditions in the coastal communities were such that custom and tradition were strong enough to support and enforce management practices. This has declined, however, as the fisher now thinks more of his personal gains. For example, palolo (sea worm) is a Samoan delicacy; knowledge and information about it are passed on from generation to generation. Traditionally palolo was not to be sold for money but today it is available in the markets. 


Rapid population growth, urbanization, more effective techniques for fishing and storage, use of destructive fishing techniques such as explosives and poisons, the introduction of commercial fisheries and loss of essential fisheries habitat have placed considerable pressures on Samoa’s inshore fisheries, rendering them unsustainable. Many mangrove swamps and marshes, which are important nurseries for many species of fish such as the mullet, trevallies and crab, have been drained and reclaimed. Clearing of mountain slopes and forests has created serious soil erosion problems with disastrous effects on inshore reefs. Significant areas of coral reefs and lagoons have been degraded by destructive fishing practices.

Today’s fisheries management is being undermined by such factors as the emphasis on production, participation in the modern economy, an increased capacity for fishing, a lack of information on which to base management and the destabilising effect of the cash economy. The knowledge that took centuries to accumulate is rapidly discarded as people adopt more contemporary ways of using their marine resources. There is little chance for the future generations to enjoy a healthy marine environment and plentiful seafood unless effective sustainable management plans are put in place. 


The Government, through its policy initiatives and institutional measures, has shown its commitment to the conservation and protection of the local environments (e.g. Lands, Surveys and Environment Act, Fisheries Act, World Conventions and Treaties).

The Fisheries Act allows some village regulations to be made into by-laws. It gives government recognition to these laws and enables the village to prosecute and punish offenders accordingly. Many of the laws set by the Government are hard to enforce and monitor. By-laws, on the other hand, are created by people with a real interest in the management and conservation of fishery resources. The village will therefore be more inclined to act on breaches of these laws.

The Village Fisheries Extension Programme, developed by the Department of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries, assists village communities to carefully examine their situation, and to plan actions that will allow lagoons and reefs to recover, and eventually fish catches to improve. It seeks to establish community fishing practices which result in the maximum productivity and sustainability of marine resources. This programme is different in that it acknowledges that the real solution to the problem lies in the hands of village people and their Fonos (Village councils).

The village decides what its major concerns are, and what action needs to be taken. The Fisheries Division assists the village to assess its marine environment, and to decide on practical ways to make improvements. It provides technical support for the village to draw up its own “Village Fisheries Management Plan”.

Education helps create awareness of mismanagement. An integrated approach is used to teach relevant environmental issues at various age levels. Schools are encouraged to participate in various national awareness campaigns. A multi-sectoral approach is often used in organising and co-ordinating such activities. A UNESCO project in marine science curriculum materials for South Pacific Schools through support from AIDAB produced six student text books and their teachers’ guides. Inservice training workshops were run in 1997 for about 40 teachers from various secondary schools and a set of books were supplied to each secondary school. These books were well received by the teachers. 


“Sustainable development – everyone talks about it with authority, yet no one can provide a clear way of achieving it. It has become a “pie in the sky” which everyone strives for. It is clear that for Pacific Island countries to achieve sustainable development, cultural aspects and traditional practices must be woven into the approach and planning of relevant activities” (Vili A. Fuivao, Director, South Pacific Regional Environment Programme). One of the greatest challenges the Pacific island nations have to face, at the approach of the twenty-first century is to ensure that the limited natural resources on which they depend continue to be available in acceptable quantities. 

J. Wiener, Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversité Marine, Port au Prince, Haiti.  

The Haitian coastal and marine resource user, be she/he a fisher, a charcoal producer (cutting mangroves), a hotelier or a sports fisher is very aware of resource degradation and loss. Although there are usually more than adequate laws concerning the use and management of coastal and marine resources, these laws and regulations are pretty much ignored. The lead governmental agency responsible for enforcement, the Ministry of Agriculture, has an extremely limited staff (2–3 agents for 1,771 km of coast), and virtually no resources to perform its enforcement role. These problems have led to an attitude where there is virtually a free-for-all concerning resource use, and no one is willing to speak up against “renegade” resource users because they will not find any legal support. Attitudes of  “I can’t stop someone else from making a living”, “the sea is for everyone”, and “if I don’t take it someone else will”, are common and pose major problems in terms of resource management. There is such rampant poverty that it is difficult, if not impossible to tell a fisher, for example, to throw back a short lobster, or a lobster caught out of season, when he has a family to feed today. It is difficult to think of tomorrow when you are hungry today.

There is, on the part of most users, an awareness of pollution, over-fishing, and sedimentation problems affecting the coastal and marine environment. Although there is this awareness, it is usually basic, and there is little local knowledge in terms of “true” science, biology, and ecological causes and effects.

The fishers have the basic knowledge handed down from generation to generation by others (family, friends) which allows them to fish; basically in the same way as the generation which preceded them. This knowledge may include fishing zones, how to make traps, when to fish, etc.

Work on naming and classification of fish and other marine resources has shown there are differences among names given to different fishes even by members of the same fishing community. The differences in general, almost disappear with the size and thus the commercial value of the fish. So, while small “useless” fish such as squirelfish, damselfish, and hamlets may be classified as rébéka, bouki, , sélinet, or simply réjet (rejects) as a group, larger more commercially attractive fishes have a more distinctive and uniform classification; such as dorad (dolphin), tiara (wahoo), sad (snapper) or nëg (grouper).

They are also classified by location such as fliet (in the water column), zèb (in sea grasses), or roch (in rocky areas or coral reefs). The fish are also classified commercially as pwason rouge, pwason blanc, by most users, or pwason nwa (réjet). Pwason rouge (red fish) would include the larger more commercially attractive fishes such as tuna, wahoo, or snapper. Pwason blanc (white fish) includes triggerfish, larger parrotfish, surgeonfish, and some of the smaller snappers. Pwason nwa (black fish) includes tangs, hamlets, sergeant majors, and the other smaller fish usually classified as réjet.

Pwason rouge is usually sold to higher class markets, hotels, and private citizens. Pwason blanc is sold to a more middle class market, and pwason nwa is usually eaten by the fishers themselves, or sold to the poorer sector of the market.

It is important to note that various sizes of the same fish may be classified differently according to this system. Different life stages of the same fish may also cause a change in the classification. An example is the Scaridae (parrotfish) in which the initial phase may be classified as flérin, , rébeka (pwason nwa). As it grows it may eventually climb the classification scale to pwason blanc, and depending on the species and size, even up to pwason rouge. 


To limit resource over-exploitation, education is needed that combines, in an integrated way, traditional (empirical) and scientific knowledge, in particular by putting in writing oral traditions. Fishers often have an intimate understanding of fish behaviour. However, some of the knowledge is transmitted only to a few selected persons. 


The relationship between poverty and environmental exploitation was further discussed. In Nigeria for example, fish rejects are transformed into poultry feed and very little is therefore wasted.

In societal terms, it was pointed out that at extreme levels of poverty, the value system must be challenged and possibly adjusted or changed through a sort of ethnic/social engineering. It is particularly important to change people’s attitudes of “laissez-faire” towards environmental damage and depletion of resources, because otherwise the situation will only get worse. This requires education of fishers and communities to help improve their own understanding of resource management.

Since industrial and social parameters are the driving factors of change maybe these indicators of change should be considered before we look at bio-indicators.



A. Boina, Commission de l’océan Indien, Centre national de documentation et recherche scientifique, Comoros 


Participation or shared development is a process that allows populations, communities or countries to express their views and increase their autonomy. Through negotiation, their role is no longer passive or servile, indeed they become active contributors. Participation is part and parcel of the process of sustainable integrated management of coastal areas. It involves training populations in order to perpetuate and sustain certain actions. 


A judicious process of consultation combined with prolonged observation and analysis should precede the definition of projects. Beforehand it is also necessary to consider the following:

The planning and organization of a project should remain flexible so as to give people a genuine opportunity to participate in the different phases of the project. Experimentation and research should strongly influence the direction to be taken and continual changes may have to be made throughout the duration of the project. Those responsible for the project should avoid adopting a pedantic/patronizing attitude. 


At all stages of the process of integrated management of coastal areas, legality and legitimacy should be a main objective. This may be achieved through the combined framework of local governance, which constitutes the body of institutional arrangements including governmental and non-governmental structures, the legal framework and traditions and social standards of the local population. 



An example of strategic thought was given by the author concerning the management of domestic waste and the maintenance of beaches in the Itsandra Bay area (Comoros). In reference to both these objectives, he described the problems, actions, means, contributors and tools involved. He pointed out that successful management is achieved with the help of the collaborative committee and through the action of members of the villages of the bay. 


In order to allow populations to participate it is necessary to:

This list is non-exhaustive since universal concepts to encourage the participation of populations do not yet exist.  

O. Defeo, Departamento de Recursos del Mar, CINVESTAV, Unidad Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico  

Coastal systems in Latin America are affected by increasing land- and ocean-based activities: tourism, recreation, fishing, mariculture, domestic and industrial waste disposal, military activities, transportation, mining and energy industries. When unplanned, these activities impact on and threaten biodiversity, including economically important species. Small-scale, artisanal fisheries constitute an important socio-economic component of the Latin American and Caribbean fisheries. These fisheries provide an important source of employment and represent a key source of high quality food, generating important direct incomes to artisanal communities and elevated export revenues to the countries of Latin America. These fisheries could be characterized by six contrasting phases which describe the long-term landing and export value patterns:

  1. development

  2. expansion

  3. over-exploitation

  4. closure

  5. stabilization

  6. institutionalization/ consolidation

In the majority of the cases, only the first three phases occurred and several coastal fisheries are, at present, dramatically overexploited and have collapsed. One of the main causes for these collapses is that fishers have not been included in the discussions about management. Here two cases are presented in which experimental and co-management practices were used.


The yellow clam Mesodesma mactroides is a sedentary bivalve distributed along the warm temperate intertidal zone of the Atlantic coast of South America. This species is artisanally harvested (shovels and hand-picking) on sandy beaches of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. In Uruguay, the historical phases of the yellow clam fishery closely resemble those described earlier. Landings of yellow clam catches presented low levels before the decade of the 80s, in which statistical coverage of the activity did not exist. The expansion phase began in the 80s, when landings increased up to 3.5 times in five years (from 62 tonnes in 1981 to 219 tonnes in 1985). Catches decreased more than 100% from 1985 to 1986, and in the first quarter of 1987 only 11 tonnes were caught (overexploitation phase). Then the fishery was closed for 32 consecutive months, from April 1987 to November 1989. This idea was promoted by resource biologists, as a management experiment to investigate the effects of fishing activities on the demography of the yellow clam. During the closure of the fishery, the interaction between resource users, coastal marine authorities and fishery biologists during the experimental process was identified as a wise practice. The small and well-defined group of local fishers was specially involved in enforcing regulations in order to set up an accurate control of the experiment. The National Institute of Fisheries approved and encouraged the scientific initiative (i.e. a good political climate was in place).

The experiment provided significant information from an ecological point of view. The long term study has shown that fishing can influence the demography and abundance of shellfishes, beyond the effects of exploitation, thus highlighting the ecological implications of humans as top predators in the system, and also as a source of physical disturbance associated with harvesting. Experimental manipulation of the fishery allowed identification of the positive and negative effects of fishing, with meaningful management implications. The fishery was reopened from December 1989 onwards, and two additional operational management strategies were implemented:

  1. a minimum catch volume per fisher, priority was given to those fishers with longer activity in the fishery;

  2. a spatial management scheme, considering habitat heterogeneity, which accounts for spatial and temporal variations in resource abundance and in the fishing effort exerted.

The strong and rapid resource recovery was reflected in the high catch per unit effort achieved by the fishers when the fishery was reopened during the summer of 1990. Allocation of property rights to each fisherman resulted in a useful mechanism to avoid “the tragedy of the commons”, to maintain the stock at desirable levels and to improve the quality of life of fishers (these last two elements are two quantitative indicators). Thus, the stabilization phase occurred after the fishery was closed. In this period, the catch per unit of effort was two times higher than in preclosure years.

Following a decision of the management body, the fishery was left as an open access system since 1992, which determined another collapse a year after. Thus, the 6th fishery phase, the “consolidation” period, was not completed because of an unwise decision by the government authority.  


The Chilean benthic fauna is diverse. Over sixty species of invertebrates generate annual landings of about 150,000 tons, with an export value exceeding 100 million dollars. Harvesting is restricted to artisanal divers and coastal subsistence food gatherers. In the past 15 years, a number of shellfishes have been overexploited and in some cases, the fishery has collapsed. Fishery closures were unsuccessful, and thus extensive illegal activities occurred along the coastline. In 1991, the Chilean Fishing and Aquaculture Law was approved. It incorporates main fishery and ecological knowledge developed by local scientists, such as the implementation of marine reserves and Marine Exploitation Areas (MEAs). Access to these MEAs, defined over small coastal segments (i.e. < 100 ha of sea bottom), was granted only to organized artisanal communities, and for 2 years on the basis of management and exploitation plans previously agreed by the fishers, the maritime authorities and the scientists.

Community involvement improved the effectiveness of shellfish management programmes and constitutes an effective tool by which fishers, scientists and managers could interact to improve the quality of the regulatory process. Co-management of small coastal MEAs resulted in larger catches, catch per unit of effort and net economic revenues perceived by the fishers as a result of higher quality of the product (individual sizes) when compared with open access fishing grounds. Promising results on natural re-stocking of shellfishes in coves or “caletas” with organized fisher communities offer hopes for the future sustainable use of benthic resources. Co-management provides fishers the possibility to share in the decision-making. Indeed, the perception of ownership by the fishers is one of the most important focal points that determined the success of this wise management practice developed in Chile.

These cases represent successful co-management pilot experiments. But there is a problem of scale that precludes the extent of generalization to other cultures and regions. Each region has its own way of achieving their respective wise co-management objective. 


The question was raised as to whether the project in the Comoros would be sustainable once outside funding ceased. It was felt that self-financing efforts such as ecotourism and craftsmanship development might assist in making this a reality.

As regards the South American fisheries co-management projects, the importance of political will for project success was emphasized. The success and acceptance of fishery closures may also depend on whether fishers have alternative sources of income.

The two speakers in this session addressed the theme from different standpoints depending on personal backgrounds, the social sciences and the natural sciences, and it was interesting to see the areas of similarities and differences in the presentations.

Following discussion on the presentations several participants saw the need to develop some clear perspective from this meeting especially in view of all the divergent and thought-provoking input.

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