Oceans, seas and coast

Oceans, seas and coast

Why include oceans, seas and coastline?

The marine environment - including the oceans and all seas and adjacent coastal areas - forms an integrated whole that is an essential component of the global life-support system and a positive asset that presents opportunities for sustainable development. International law, as reflected in the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea  sets forth rights and obligations of States and provides the international basis upon which to pursue the protection and sustainable development of the marine and coastal environment and its resources. This requires new approaches to marine and coastal area management and development, at the national, subregional, regional and global levels, approaches that are integrated in content and are precautionary and anticipatory in ambit.

The coastal area contains diverse and productive habitats important for human settlements, development and local subsistence. More than half the world's population lives within 60 km of the shoreline, and this could rise to three quarters by the year 2020. Many of the world's poor are crowded in coastal areas. Coastal resources are vital for many local communities and indigenous people. The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is also an important marine area where the States manage the development and conservation of natural resources for the benefit of their people.

Key questions for this area

If you are studying or teaching about oceans, seas and coastlines, or are looking to add content to your unit, the following are some key questions you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • What is overfishing and where does it mainly occur? What is the impact to ocean and land based communities?
  • What laws or conventions exist that protect Australia's oceans and coastlines?
  • Should states stop over fishing and protect marine resources?
  • Is it feasible to establish more protected coastal zones where fishing is prohibited?
  • Should people be prevented from building houses near the coastline?
  • What is ocean acidification?

Useful resources 

If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, check out our resources for inspiration.

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