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Coastal Pollution: Understanding, Causes, Impacts, and Prevention

by Widiya

Not only sea pollution or ocean pollution, coastal pollution also has occurred on almost all beaches that become tourist attractions. Among the characteristics of coastal pollution that we can see immediately is the amount of garbage scattered along the coast. Another characteristic of polluted coasts is the presence of oil spills and disruption of the balance of coastal ecosystems. In order to prevent the happening of coastal pollution, we must know the causes of coastal pollution.

Causes of Coastal Pollution

There are many things that can cause coastal pollution. These causes we are about to learn happen because of natural factors and also factors in human activity. Below are some of the causes of coastal pollution that have occurred in Indonesia.

1.      Beach Abrasion

Abrasion, also known as coastal erosion, is the process of shoreline regression from its previous position. This abrasion is caused by natural factors such as wind blowing over the sea which produces strong waves like ocean waves. Large ocean waves that occur continuously can accelerate the abrasion process. Other than reducing sea distance from the land which results to coastal areas becoming narrow, abrasion also displaces coastal fish gatherings, making it difficult for fishermen to fish by the sea.

2.      Logging of Mangrove Forests

Coastal communities have a bad habit of cutting down mangrove forests to be used as aquaculture. In addition, timber from mangrove trees is also sold and used as building foundations. These activities greatly disrupt regeneration and inhibit the succession process of mangrove forests. It causes abrasion and loss of some island ecosystems.

3.      Pollution of Inorganic Waste

Areas with high levels of pollution are densely populated coastal areas. One source of pollution in coastal ecosystems is pollution of household waste, especially inorganic waste such as plastic bottles and cans which are very difficult to decompose. For example, it takes about 450 years to break one plastic bottle. Chemicals that each component contained could cause a severe effect on the environment. This certainly makes the sustainability of the coastal ecosystem increasingly threatened. We can’t say that organic waste is safer than inorganic or in reverse. Instead, let’s take care of the environment starting from ourselves.

4.      Over-Exploitation of Natural Resources

Forms of coastal exploitation include sand mining, coral reef mining, and over-exploitation of fish. Many fishermen use fishing equipment that is not environmentally friendly to get abundant fish catches.

This certainly damages coral reef habitat. The scarcity of coral reefs and the paucity of sea sand cause increased depth of shallow water so that ocean waves cannot be muted, and instead, get to the beach with considerable energy.

5.      Beach Reclamation

Sea level rise that is not planned well can cause coastal areas around reclamation prone to sinking. In addition, sea water can rise to land so that ground water is contaminated and becomes salty. This is very detrimental to coastal communities, especially for those who grow crops.

Impacts That Occur Due to Beach Pollution

Coastal pollution has a negative impact on the environment around the coast. Some of the impacts of coastal pollution that have occurred are:

1.      Damage to Mangrove Ecosystems and Coral Reefs

According to the Mangrove Information Center (MIC), the main cause of pollution of mangrove forests is the lack of understanding of the benefits of trees from the tidal area. This misunderstanding also occurs in coral reef ecosystems.

Pollution of many coral reefs is caused by destructive fishing activities such as the use of explosives and toxic materials. In addition, coral mining activities, coastal reclamation, irresponsible tourism activities, and sedimentation due to increased erosion also contribute to exacerbating coral reef habitat.

2.      Coast Damage

Pollution does not only damage or kill the biotic components of the waters, but it can also endanger health or even threaten the lives of humans who use polluted biota or waters. In addition, pollution can also reduce the beauty of marine and coastal waters affected by pollution.

3.      Death of Biological Resources

So far, there are four water locations that experience cases of death of biological resources such as fish and green turtles. The main causes of these deaths are pollution, over-exploitation, and rising sea surface temperatures.

Coastal Pollution Prevention

To prevent coastal pollution, the following activities can be carried out:

  1. Manage coastal areas in an integrated manner. The purpose of integrated management is to preserve, maintain, and use wisely. This can be realized by building a management concept that is sustainable, has a vision for the future, integrates economic and ecological interests, and engages the community.
  2. Fisherman’s activities in carrying out fishing must use environmentally friendly fishing gear by placing the right location and correct operation.
  3. Conduct beach fill activities to form coastlines.
  4. Making detached breakwater, Groyne, and sea walls perfectly to prevent abrasion.
  5. Use a cube breakwater to absorb large waves.
  6. Supervise activities in coral reef areas and make artificial coral reefs, especially in areas that have suffered severe damage (Refer to 15 Effects Of Pollution On Coral Reefs for further study).
  7. Mangrove rehabilitation, namely by replanting mangrove forests. In addition, an ecosystem management plan needs to be made that can reduce logging activities by the community against mangrove forests. This can be realized by transferring people’s livelihoods, where there are some people who are still looking for mangrove wood to overcome this. Efforts can be made to increase fisheries potential in the mangrove forest area by planting mangroves so that mangroves can become nursery ground and fishery ground.
  8. Make regulations for entrepreneurs who will set up cottages, home stays, floating houses or other similar buildings that is built on a coral reef ecosystem or mangrove ecosystem. These regulations can be in the form of planting mangroves back in other places with a minimum area equal to the area of ​​logged forest, as well as regulations regarding the design of floating houses so that sunlight still reaches the bottom of the waters.
  9. Make a plan for the law to maintain mangrove ecosystems as well as management of coastal areas and small islands in general.

Those are the coastal pollution that is happening in our Earth. After reading this article, hopefully all of you can help to prevent this from going more severe.

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