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China and EU collaborate over coastal management

Chinese and EU scientists joined together to investigate two contrasting coastal systems and how best to protect and manage the vital resources on which the local populations depend.
China and EU collaborate over coastal management
The 'Sustainable options for people, catchment and aquatic resources' (SPEAR) project studied two coastal systems, one based in a rural area and the other in an industrial part of China. Sanggou Bay was part of a rural watershed while Huangdun Bay was located in an industrialised area south of Shanghai. Both systems supported communities that depended on marine resources through the large-scale cultivation of seaweed, shellfish and finfish.

SPEAR project developed and tested an integrated framework for interpreting coastal zone structure and dynamics that took into consideration watershed interactions, ecological structure and human activities. The initiative employed an interdisciplinary approach that combined natural and social sciences in order to address the complex issues found in integrated management and to help reconcile conflicting ecological and socioeconomic demands.

researchers used local and regional data, ongoing Chinese field programmes and satellite imagery together with work carried out in the laboratory and the field. Scientists examined the impact of catchment use on the coastal zone by focusing on nutrients, organic matter and sediment fluxes.

component models were developed to describe the impact of aquaculture on the environment by considering the effect of human activities such as resource exploitation, management practices in the water catchment area and sewage discharge.

the use of integrated modelling allowed economic drivers for social issues such as over-exploitation to be coupled with ecological models, thereby enabling realistic testing of three contrasting management scenarios. Scientists were particularly interested in how the cultivation of multiple species can be used to improve sustainability.

project partners also prepared a book that explained the work and its benefits to managers, scientists and the general public. The book comprised seven chapters that focused on remote sensing, system scale, ecosystem modelling and waste simulation techniques.

work carried out by the SPEAR consortium has improved the lives of local people by resolving conflicting social and environmental needs as well as through the sustainable use of aquatic resources.

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