SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 21, February 2017 - Page 119

In order to replenish eroded beaches, many communities will provide nourishment, which is costly and often used as an excuse to intensify development. According to the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, the federal government spends an average of $150 million every year on beach nourishment and various shoreline erosion control measures. Policy makers must abandon these unsustainable practices and set strict erosion set back laws.

Another reason to retreat from coastal development is the inevitable rise of sea levels. Over the last 125 years, sea level has risen approximately one foot along that Atlantic coast. By 2100, scientists are highly confident that global sea level rise will continue to rise between 8 inches and 6.6 feet by 2100. Sea level rise is already the leading culprit in the U.S. Gulf, Atlantic, and Pacific shoreline erosion problem. It is likely that rising seas will increase flood levels “approximately the amount of sea 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.

February 2017 - Ocean Literacy