Integrated Coastal Zone Management

What’s the issue?

Our coastal zone is home to a wide range of activities and industries. Often these activities are intrinsically linked to the coast itself, for example; marine and coastal recreation and tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, shipping and port activities, energy production, commerce and trade. These activities, operating at different spatial scales, can cause cumulative effects such as; inappropriate development, competing demands for natural resources, interference with natural processes, pollution, disturbance and/or displacement of priority species, and habitat degradation. Coupled with the effects of the twin climate and biodiversity emergencies, our coastal areas require an ongoing process of management where two conditions are met:

  1. All those with a stake in our coastal areas are involved in working collaboratively to understand the challenges and agree upon the best use of resources in order to manage activities in an integrated way, and;
  2. Coastal resources must be used in a sustainable manner, so that development meets the needs of current generations without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs.

Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) is a process that can help to address social, economic, environmental and governance issues faced by coastal communities. The European Environment Agency defines ICZM as “Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) is a dynamic, multidisciplinary and iterative process to promote sustainable management of coastal zones. It covers the full cycle of information collection, planning (in its broadest sense), decision making, management and monitoring of implementation”.


What needs to happen?

It is disappointing that in the draft 3rd River Basin Management Plan, no section exists on coastal issues, this is a major gap that must be addressed within the final plan. There is an urgent need to develop an ICZM plan for Ireland which works to address the fragmented governance within our coastal zone and facilitates the integration of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) with the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The effective implementation of ICZM in Ireland should work to secure healthy and thriving coasts and coastal communities.


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For more information on SWAN’s position on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Ireland, please refer to the following document:

SWAN Research Project: Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Ireland, 2014

SWAN Response to 3rd River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) Consultation