The shallow ecosystems and productivity of mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and inter-reef seabed are critical natural assets for food production, food security, cultural and recreational activities and livelihoods for many people in Pacific Island States. They also provide important ecosystem services in protection of coasts against storm surges and in production of carbonate sands and debris to nourish beaches and maintain islands. These ecosystems are easily damaged through reclamation, drainage, pollution and destruction of critical habitats for fish and other food species. Once destroyed, these ecosystems are not readily or cheaply restored or replaced.
The paper discusses issues that should be addressed through an integrated process of strategic planning and design to ensure proper consideration of environmental, social and economic impacts in any proposal for island protection works.