Coastal regions are of exceptional ecological value, in part because their biological diversity is much greater than areas located further inland. But they are also hugely important from a purely economic perspective.
Over half of the worlds human population live in coastal areas (less than 50km from the sea). Many people depend on the sea for their livelihood: fishery, port activities, tourism, etc. Eighty percent of all human activities take place in coastal zones, inevitably causing some harm to the marine environment, through oil spills, sewage disposal, sand mining, and so on. Overfishing fosters coastal erosion, which causes economic losses, e.g. by sedimentation, which in turn necessitates expensive dredging operations.
Today, conservation of the sea and coastline is receiving increasing attention. For example, a joint programme of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme), under the aegis of the Barcelona Convention, is helping the countries around the Mediterranean to create protected marine areas and adopt a common approach for managing their coastlines. The OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic entered into force in 1998, which moreover was the International Year of the Ocean (IYO).
Both optical and radar satellite data can be of great help
for sustainable management of oceans and coastal environments.