Defining Coastal Zones The definition of “coastal zone” is an issue that has been debated by resource specialists, lawyers, bureaucrats, industry representatives, and community groups. The consensus appears to be that the definition of coastal zone should be a functional one. In other words, the definition used depends on the nature of the issue being addressed. For example, in matters relating to the fishery, the term “coastal zone” may refer to an area extending to or beyond Canada’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In the case of issues related to aquaculture, a much narrower definition may suffice. Broadly speaking, the limits of the coastal zone can, depending on the situation, extend from the inland limit of coastal watersheds to the seaward edge of the EEZ. Coastal zones, then, can extend a long way inland. A terrestrial component is included to show that activities taking place within a coastal watershed can directly affect the marine environment through run-off into river systems. The coastal region is constantly changing due to waves, currents, tides, and rising sea levels. Changes are influenced by local conditions. The coastal zone is commonly considered to be composed of three subsystems, each with its own characteristics, resources, and set of problems: marine, coast, and terrestrial. Marine Subsystems The marine subsystem consists of the oceanic component of a coastal zone. In short, it is the part that is under salt water. Characteristics Resources and Uses Challenges • Describes water depth, salinity, and temperature. • Wave and tide regimes. • Water currents and sediment movement. • Describes seabed composition. • Diversity of marine habitat types. • Exploitation of fisheries. • Exploitation of oil and gas. • Exploitation for tourism and recreation. • Use for navigation. • Use for waste discharges. • Disturbance and destruction of habitat by fishing, mining, anchoring, dredging, and dumping. • Depletion of exploitable plant/ animal stocks. • Oil spills (both disastrous shipwrecks and routine leakage). • Spatial conflicts (tourism, fishery, navigation, etc.). • Deterioration of water quality due to waste discharges. Coast Subsystem The coast subsystem is the relatively narrow and dynamic transitional zone between the marine and terrestrial subsystems. It includes the littoral zone (between low- and high-tide marks) and the supralittoral or saltwater spray zone. Characteristics Resources and Uses Challenges • Type of coastal profile (sandy beach, pebble beach, rocky shore, etc.). • Tidal regime and storm surge susceptibility (shoreline topography). • Wind and wave regime. • Coastal habitat types (rocky, mud flat, etc.). • Sand and gravel extraction from shoreline. • Exploitation for tourism and recreation. • Exploitation of forest resources. • Use for human settlement. • Use for land reclamation (e.g., dike construction to reclaim salt-marsh habitat for agriculture). • Use for port development and related industrial activities. • Use for aquaculture. • Disturbance and destruction of coastal habitat by mining, logging, settlement, and infrastructural development. • Degradation and loss of shoreline due to accelerated erosion. • Spatial conflicts. • Deterioration of coastal water quality. Terrestrial Subsystem The terrestrial subsystem of the coastal zone consists of land where human or other activity can affect the marine environment. Characteristics Resources and Uses Challenges • Topography. • Soil types. • Aquifer structure and groundwater resources. • Surface water resources. • Terrestrial habitats present (e.g., forest, barren, wetland). • Use of terrestrial resources (logging, mining, etc.). • Use of freshwater resources (domestic, industrial, irrigation, hydro, and navigation). • Agriculture and aquaculture. • Human settlement patterns. • Land reclamation. • Industry. • Infrastructure facilities (power plants, water treatment plants, etc.). • Destruction of terrestrial habitats. • Transport of terrestrially generated effluents to the marine subsystem. • Increased susceptibility to flooding. • Reduction of freshwater availability and quality. Exploring Nova Scotia’s Coastline 1. Either individually or in pairs, choose a portion of the Nova Scotia coastline. For example: • Northumberland Shore - New Brunswick border to St. George’s Bay • Cheticamp Beach area of Cape Breton Island • Meat Cove, Cape Breton Island • Eastern shore from the Strait of Canso to Halifax • South shore from Halifax to Shelburne • Shelburne to Yarmouth • Fundy shore from Yarmouth to Digby • Digby to Cape Split • Minas Basin • Kingsburg Beach • Risser’s Beach • Medford Beach • Lawrencetown Beach • Clam Beach • Arisaig Beach If you have another coastal area in mind check with me for approval… 2. Word Document: Each group will make a chart or data table and describe the: - specific characteristics - resources and uses - challenges of their coastal zone, for all three coastal zone subsystems (terrestrial, coast, marine). 3. You must include pictures.