Integrated Marine and Coastal Area Management (IMCAM)

Current sectoral approaches to the management of marine and coastal resources have generally not proven capable of conserving marine and coastal biological diversity. New models are needed to move planners toward multiple-use, systems-oriented modes of management, based on precautionary approaches and ecosystem management principles. Wide adoption and implementation of integrated marine and coastal area management (IMCAM) are necessary for effective conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity.

IMCAM is a participatory process for decision-making to prevent, control, or mitigate adverse impacts from human activities in the marine and coastal environment, and to contribute to the restoration of degraded coastal areas. It involves all stakeholders, including: decision-makers in the public and private sectors; resource owners, managers and users; non-governmental organizations; and the general public. Community-based management approaches have proven particularly important. Integrated management programmes have already demonstrated their potential as an effective tool in developed and developing countries around the world.

Decision II/10, as adopted by the Conference of the Parties at its second meeting in Jakarta in November 1995, encourages the use of IMCAM as the most suitable framework for addressing human impacts on marine and coastal biological diversity and for promoting its conservation and sustainable use; and encourages Parties to establish and/or strengthen, where appropriate, institutional, administrative, and legislative arrangements for the development of integrated management of marine and coastal ecosystems, plans and strategies for marine and coastal areas, and their integration within national development plans.

According to decision II/10, crucial components of IMCAM are relevant sectoral activities, such as construction and mining in coastal areas, mariculture, mangrove management, tourism, recreation, fishing practices and land-based activities, including watershed management. Where appropriate and practical, physical alteration, destruction and degradation of vital habitats should be prevented and restoration of degraded habitats pursued, including spawning areas, nurseries of stocks of living marine resources, bearing in mind the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the need to provide a balanced approach to the use and conservation of marine and coastal biological diversity.

IMCAM is one of the programme elements of the elaborated programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity adopted at the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties and contained in the Annex to decision VII/5 on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity.

Programme element 1 on Implementation of integrated marine and coastal area management is composed of:

Goal: To promote and improve the implementation of IMCAM at the local, national and regional level.

  • Operational objective 1.1:

To apply appropriate policy instruments and strategies, including building of capacity, for the effective implementation of IMCAM

  • Operational objective 1.2:

To undertake direct action to protect the marine environment from negative impacts

  • Operational objective 1.3:

To develop guidelines for ecosystem evaluation and assessment, paying attention to the need to identify and select indicators, including social and abiotic indicators, that distinguish between natural and human-induced effects.