Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP peopleandplanet.net
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Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP
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coasts and oceans > factfile

Coastal populations
With the exception of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of parts of Central and South Asia, coastal populations are growing at a faster rate than those further inland: ... more

Coastal megacities
Coastal cities are getting bigger on virtually all continents. Of the world�s 17 megacities in 2006 � those with over 10 million inhabitants � 14 are coastal1. ... more

Resources under pressure
Over half of the world's coastlines suffer from severe development pressures, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI). Although the report found that virtually all coastal zones in populated areas of developed countries were over-developed, a similar patterns was evident in most developing countries with coastlines. Coastal areas around urban centers were all suffering from unplanned development, over-crowding and the over-exploitation of coastal resources. ... more

Rising seas
A 1998 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), concluded that the world's sea level could rise between 9 and 88 centimetres within just 80 years. A rise of nearly a metre could affect up to one billion people living along the world's coastlines, particularly in the tropics, where warmer water expands faster than in more temperate regions. The latest IPCC report released in February 2007, notes that sea levels are rising faster than previous forecasts. Sea levels, which rose on average 1.8mm a year between 1961 and 2003, doubled between 1993 and 2003 - rising by 3.1mm per year. ... more

Deep waters
... more

Collapsing fisheries
After decades of growth, the reported global wild fish catch peaked in 2000 at 96 million tons and fell to 93 million tons in 2003, the last year for which worldwide data are available. The catch per person dropped from an average of 17 kilograms in the late 1980s to 14 kilograms in 2003�the lowest figure since 1965. ... more

Destructive fishing subsidies
According to recent research published by scientists Ransom A. Myers and Boris Worm of Dalhousie University of Canada, all of the world�s large ocean-going fish � including tuna, cod, marlin, halibut, and sharks � have been decimated by overfishing. The researchers compiled a half century of data, back to the onset of large-scale fishing techniques in the 1950s, and found that 90 per cent of the populations of all large ocean fish species has disappeared. ... more

Ocean pollution
The oceans are the ultimate sink for all pollution, 70-80 per cent of which originates from land-based sources. Globally, some 450 cubic kilometers of wastewater - from untreated or partially treated sewage, industrial effluents and agricultural runoff - are carried into coastal waters by rivers and streams every year. Nearly everywhere in the developing world coastal cities dump their untreated wastes into the sea. No place in the world's seas is immune from pollution, as ocean currents transport pollutants to the far corners of the world. ... more

Coral reefs
Coral reefs are natural living structures and coral itself is half plant and half animal. Coral reefs are actually living apartment houses, built by transparent polyps, which secrete calcium carbonate (the main ingredient of limestone) and erect their architectural masterpieces upon the remains of their predecessors. ... more

Alien species
Another form of pollution is the introduction of exotic, or non-native species into marine environments. These marine invaders are on the increase in all the world's seas, probably because of the increase in international shipping. ... more

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