Environmental Management and Sustainable Use of Coastal Lagoons Ecosystems pp. 333-350
Authors: (Rutger de Wit, Behzad Mostajir, Marc Troussellier, Thang Do Chi, Unité Mixte De Recherche Ecosystèmes Lagunaires, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Université Montpellier II, Montpellier, France)
Abstract: This chapter illustrates some of the major issues for the management and use of coastal lagoons using two examples from the South of France. These are the mesotidal Bassin d‘Arcachon on the Atlantic coast and the microtidal Etang de Thau on the Mediterranean (see Figure 1). Oyster-farming is a major use in both lagoons. Coastal lagoons are part of a coastal landscape and are therefore typical transition zones between the continent and the sea, characterised by gradients and ecotones. Thus, it is most important to consider the coastal lagoon ecosystems in the context of the coastal zone and consider their links both with the ocean as well as with the hinterland. The latter requests a thorough knowledge of the watershed of the lagoon. Coastal areas, which are commonly defined as the interface or the transition area between land and sea, are diverse in function, form and dynamics. In general, these systems are not well defined by strict spatial boundaries and include low lands, intertidal zones, salt marshes, wetlands, lagoons and their watersheds. From the development and management point of view, the coastal areas are characterised by the economical activities that they support and by the impact of these activities on the environment. Accordingly, the coastal areas are characterised by i) the production of living resources, ii) highly diverse human uses including urban development, exploitation of sediments, shipping and harbours, commercial and sport fishing, aquaculture, tourism, and as a receptacle of industrial and agricultural waste, iii) their role in providing protection against flooding and by iv) their biodiversity and role in the functioning of the ecosystems at different spatial levels. However, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning may be impaired or negatively affected by economic use of lagoons. Coastal lagoons represent an important natural heritage and are noticeably important habitats for waterfowl, marine wildlife, algae and halophytic plant species. The objective of sustainable use of coastal ecosystems, therefore, is to conserve the natural heritage and guarantee the living resources for future generations and develop management schemes that allow an acceptable degree of human exploitation that does not impair the functioning of the ecosystem in the long term.
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