Coastal Uses Working Group
The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) identified impacts to coral reef ecosystems from coastal activities as a major threat, making it Goal 7 of the National Action Plan.
Human activities in coastal regions are continually, and, in some cases, irreparably damaging coral reef ecosystems. For example, dredging for navigation or marinas, beach renourishment, pipeline and cable installation, and coastal development and modification projects can degrade water quality in near-shore habitats. In addition, although reefs contribute to tourism revenues, a boom in coastal tourism can lead to direct impacts (e.g., diving, fishing, and recreational boating) and indirect impacts (e.g., increasing demand for coastal development, sewage discharge, and vessel traffic) on coral reef resources, compounding the adverse effects of coastal development.
As the number of people using and transiting coral reef areas has increased, so, too, has the damage from careless snorkeling and diving practices (handling and breaking coral, leaving refuse, etc.), as well as increases in vessel groundings, which damage coral reef ecosystems by destroying habitat, releasing pollutants, and displacing resident fish and other wildlife. In addition, scarring from propellers and anchors, and other physical impacts, are increasing concerns in near-shore habitats.
Adequate planning and the consistent and proactive application of existing State and Federal authorities and programs can reduce the adverse impacts of coastal development, shoreline modification, vessel groundings, tourism, and other coastal uses.