Oceans and their Coastal Margins - CASE STUDIES

Case studies useful for Option B - Oceans and their Coastal Margins :)

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Somali Waste

In 1991: Government collapsed leaving the country in chaos and 9 million people on edge of starvation

How did this lead to waste dumping?

  •  no formal government so European ships began dumping barrels of nuclear waste
    • leaching lead, cadmium, mercury
  • European hospitals + factories giving waste to Italian Mafia to dispose of cheaply
  • Mainly dumped off the coast of South Somalia

GOVERNMENT DID NOTHING! No clean-up, prevention or compensation!

Impact on Somalis?

  • Death - leaking onto shores  - esp. after 2005 Tsunami
  • Rashes, Nausea, Malformed babies
  • European ships also taking seafood illegally - fisherman losing livelihood and starving
  • Led to 'Pirates' - fishermen taking to speedboats to dissuade dumpers and wage a 'tax'
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Exxon Valdez Disaster - OIL POLLUTION

1989 - Tanker carrying crude oil - Ran aground off coast of ALASKA, which was in economic slump

  • 11 million barrels of oil
  • affected 1,300 miles of coastline

Environmental Effects

  • killed 250,000 seabirds
  • 300 harbour seals
  • 2,300 otters
  • 24 killer whales
  • Countless salmon + herring

Immediate impact: economic disaster as fishing industry (esp.herring) collapsed = bankrupcies and resultant acoholism, divorces + suicide

HOWEVER, Long-term: Created a new industry of 'cleaning-up'

Exxon spent 1 billion dollars - helped economy; other industries recovering

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Christchurch Bay - Coastal Management

Between Hengistbury Head and Hurst Castle Spit

Very fast coastal recession! --> unresistant sands and gravels with underlying clay + high energy processes

Divided into three coastal zones:

  • NAISH - managed retreat - soft defences such as shingle replenishment
    • Low value land - mobile caravans
    • Need for sediment to feed Barton and Hurst spit
  • CENTRAL BARTON - Strong defences - water drainage, revetments, rock armour, rock +wooden groynes, regraded slopes, interlocking sheet piles
    • High value property close to cliff edge - Heavily populated
    • Land very prone to rotational slumps
  • EAST BARTON - do nothing approach
    • Low-value property inland
    • Fast retreating cliffs, but so far only golf-course has lost land
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The BEAUFORT SEA - Geopolitical Conflict

Beaufort sea = portion of Arctic Ocean - NW of the Northwest Territories, the Yukon & Alaska

Dispute between Canada + USA

  • Canada wants EEZ boundary to lie along the 141st Meridian West
  • USA wants border to be perpendicular to the coastline

This difference creates a wedge claimed by both nations

The wedge contains rich sources of PETROLEUM!

Both have put petroleum exploration rights up for bid in the section

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JAPAN - Territorial Ocean Disputes

Claiming the land = rights over the EEZ! =  more ocean + resources :D

Takeshima Islands

  • 2 Islands
  • Japan vs. South Korea
  • Korea planted trees, built building and helicopter pad
  • DISPUTE: Japanese tourists getting too close
    • S.K. sending out patrol boats; often fights, fishermen have died

Okinotorishima Islands

  • Very small islands
  • Japan vs. China
  • Japan spent $600million reinforcing them from erosion
    • No land mass = No EEZ!
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The GREAT PACIFIC DUMP - Plastic Waste

A gyre of plastic debris in the North Pacific Ocean

High concentrations of plastic + chemical sludge

Plastic waste in the ocean accumulated due to ocean currents

No definite size - estimated to be 2 x USA

Plastic doesn't biodegrade.....

  • Birds dying - Bottle caps and plastic in stomachs mistaken for food
  • Plastic rings caught around the necks of animals
  • Fish consume small particles of plastic - contain chemicals
    • no 'organic' fish
  • Toxins accumulate in food chain
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Tourism in St. Lucia- Coastal Conflict

Tourist development = CONFLICT with environmentalists, fisherman + locals

  • Hotels on beachfront  = clearing sand, causing slope instability, erosion + sedimentation of shallow offshore waters
  • Overexploitation of sand = increased beach erosion, threatening turtle nests
    • Some hotels replenishing - but it erodes quickly into sea causing problems for coral reefs which need clear water
  • Over-abstraction of water = freshwater supplies reduced, sline water penetrates aquifers contamination supplies. Tourists consume alot of water which impacts water supply and quality for locals
  • Building a cruise facility = wave and tide patterns changed = created stronger currents which increased erosion
  • Wetlands destroyed to make way for building
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Hurst Spit - Erosion and Management

Hurst spit = 2km Shingle spit off Hampshire Coast


  • It protects Keyhaven and Lymington
  • Salt marshes = wildlife reserve 
  • Hurst castle
  • Protects fishing boat moorings at keyhaven

Made of pleistocene deposits carried by longshore drift from Christchurch cliffs - further West

Sea defences stopping supply so........

  • Spit has to be replenished
  • Lack of defensive sediment = erosion
  • Castle walls begining to crumble
  • Salt marshes behind affected - grasses declining
  • Dredging is reducing deposits at Mudeford
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Over-fishing: North Sea Cod

Cod stocks in North Sea < 10% of 1970 levels! --> Danger of collapse :(

EU solutions:

- Each country has 6 mile limit --> only its boats can fish 

- Quota's set yearly for each country

- So far quotas cut 60% in UK

- Compensating fishermen not to fish


People catching unwanted fish BYCATCH - throw overboard to make sure quota is most desirable fish

Catching more than quota leads to black market

Still not enough adult cod to respawn population

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Over-fishing: Canadian Atlantic Fisheries

East Coast of Newfoundland - Mid 1950's factory trawlers introduced from other countries e.g. Germany, UK, Spain

Could legally fish up to 12 miles from coast


- subjected fish to severe pressure - selective fishing - reduced spawning stocks

- physical destruction of spawning grounds

- declines in Cod, Hake and other groundfish

How did Canda Respond?

- Cod fishing banned! 1992

- Businesses closed --> 12,00 fishermen lost jobs

- Cod population collapsed: never recovered :(

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