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.