SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 21, February 2017 - Page 118

uman activity has caused coastlines to degrade at an exponential rate. Approximately half the United States population resides in coastal zones, yet anthropogenic activities and pressures are threatening coastal health. As coastal zones are becoming overpopulated and

ecologically degraded, coastal hazards, such as shoreline erosion and sea level rise, are becoming more frequent and severe. In order to protect these sensitive and critical areas, the country produced a land use law in 1972 known as the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). This comprehensive approach to coastal resource management was enacted to protect coastal zones from overpopulation and pollution. Fourteen years after CZMA was implemented, scholar Beth Millemann complied an anthology of the adverse effects that are inflicting the coast in the work And Two If By Sea. The focus of this discussion will be on the first section of the work, analyzing coastal hazards in regards to CZMA Section 303 (2)(B).

The congressional declaration of policy of the CZMA is listed in Section 303 and was created:

“to encourage and assist the states to exercise effectively their responsibilities in the coastal zone through the development and implementation of management programs…”

CZMA was created as a partnership between the state and federal government to protect and preserve coastal areas. The federal government provides funding to the state if they develop comprehensive coastal management programs that protect natural resources. If the states do not manage the CZMA adequately, federal funding can be removed. However, it is important that all eligible states implement comprehensive policies to protect the coastal zone from being further degraded by means of development and erosion.

As of 1986 when And Two If By Sea was published, 29 of 35 eligible coastal and Great Lake states and territories joined the CZMA program. Today, with the exception of Alaska, all 35 states take part in the CZMA. Although more states are taking part in this comprehensive management plan, it is still widely unknown. With the growing human population and more intensified development in coastal zones, implementing CZMA is critical to control and mitigate the adverse impacts.

According to Millemann, there are few areas less suitable for heavy development than coastal zones, which are hazardous areas for development due to the risk of floods, hurricanes, and erosion. The federal government designed flood insurance policies by requiring communities in vulnerable areas to create plans in order to reduce avoidance of future floods and erosion. However, the federal flood insurance often has the opposite effect and encourages building in a hazard zone. As of 2010, 123 million Americans live in coastal counties, putting more lives, infrastructure, and natural resources in danger. While Congress passed laws limiting federally supported development in flood areas, coastal infrastructure and development has increased. Under the CZMA, states need to implement policies that hinder new coastal development, as well as legislation that will significantly reduce exposure to the aforementioned threats.

level rise, expanding floodplains and flood zones.” In turn, this would cause storm damage and federal disaster payments to exponentially increase. Under CZMA, states have the responsibility to manage coastal development to minimize the loss of life, property, and coastal zone assets in hazardous areas.

The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 was enacted to mitigate human disturbances on coastal areas and to protect the beach from damaging floods, coastal erosion, and sea level rise. Although the strategies and management plans outlined by the CZMA are aimed at protecting and restoring coastal boundaries, the most effective way of preserving these vulnerable areas is a strategic retreat from developing in coastal areas that are largely susceptible to critical damage.

and two by the sea

Human pressure threatening coastal health.

by Maureen Elizabeth Sullivan


February 2017 - Ocean Literacy