What is a Coastal Zone?

Trinidad and Tobago has a collective coastline length of 704 km and the country’s jurisdictional sovereignty and responsibility extends beyond the terrestrial into the marine through its archipelagic waters, territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In total, the areal extent of these encompasses 77,502 km2 of waters surrounding the islands. Trinidad and Tobago therefore has a land to sea ratio of about 1:15 that is fifteen times more sea space than land space, which indicates the importance of the marine and coastal sphere to the country.

One of the troubling aspects of coastal zone management is the absence of a uniform definition as to what constitutes a coastal zone.  In Trinidad and Tobago, the legislations do not provide a definition for the coastal zone, and our citizens have different perceptions of what is the coastal zone. For the purpose of the ICZM policy, the coastal zone is defined as the geographical area covering both the maritime and the terrestrial parts of the shore, including off-shore islands, salt-water ponds and wetlands in contact with the sea.  The coastal zone of Trinidad and Tobago shall mean all areas of sea extending to the limit of the (EEZ) and includes the shoreline and coastal lands, which are inland areas above the high water mark that influence the quality or composition of coastal waters, or are influenced in some way by their proximity to coastal waters. 

ICZM: A Participatory Process

The Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) is a partnership and consensus-building exercise that brings together all sectors to co-ordinate and integrate activities on the coast so as to achieve sustainable management of our coastal resources.  It adopts the concept of co-management, where stakeholders share aspects of governance with the state.

In keeping with the participatory nature of ICZM, the ICZM Steering Committee held nineteen (19) pre-policy consultations with stakeholders including government agencies, the media, the energy sector and the business sector and coastal communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago. One goal of these nation-wide consultations was to determine issues stakeholders believed should be addressed by an ICZM policy and the interventions they recommend to address them.

The Steering Committee worked closely with Local Government bodies to organize and conduct the consultations. The Local Government bodies provided support in certain logistical aspects e.g. provision of venues, informing and mobilizing stakeholders to enable their participation in the consultations.

Dialogue emanating out of the consultations was successful in revealing a host of issues that affect coastal areas and interest groups around Trinidad and Tobago.


The issues most frequently voiced during the consultations were:

  1. The need to enhance public education and awareness on the importance of the coastal environment and the issues facing it.
  2. Inadequate compliance to existing laws and policies. It was felt that this was in part largely facilitated by a lack of enforcement.
  3. The perpetuation of unplanned and/or poorly regulated development along the coastline. Concerns were raised regarding a range of development types including squatter settlements, high-end dwellings and development for industrial and business purposes.
  4. The need for science to be better used to guide management. This included ensuring the needed scientific data is available as well as, when it does exist, using it more effectively to influence policy.
  5. Many laws, regulations, standards and/or policies relating to coastal zone management were deemed ineffective or lacking. Connected to this point, it was largely recognized that ineffectiveness of these instruments could result from inadequate capacity and resources in institutions with roles in aspects of coastal zone management.

ICZM Committee Members on TTT’s NOW

“In T&T, 70% of the population and almost 80% of all socio-economic activities are located along the coast.  

Click the link below to view TTT’s NOW morning television programme interview with Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Planning & Development Mr. Sterling Chadee (Chair, ICZM Inter-Ministerial Committee) and Dr Rahanna Juman, Deputy Director, Institute of Marine Affairs (Deputy Chair, ICZM Inter-Ministerial Committee) talk about the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (IZCM) Policy Framework and its importance…