New Directions for Coastal and Marine Monitoring: Web Mapping and Mobile Application Technologies
Coastal and marine areas are ever increasing in value to the welfare of nations. These areas provide natural, social and economic functions that contribute to increased quality of life. The oceans are instrumental in determining climate that beneficially affects all life on Earth (Payoyo, 1994). Other natural functions include habitat for endangered species, species breeding and resting areas, water treatment, groundwater recharge and flood attenuation. Some social and economic functions include tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, oil and gas development, and construction (Eckert, 1979; Prescott, 1985; Gomes, 1998). It is clear that coastal and marine areas are of vital importance to human life. Yet human terrestrial and marine activities have proven to have destructive effects on these areas. According to Canada’s National Program of Action (CNPA) (2000) the major threats to the health, productivity and bio-diversity of the marine environment result from human activity in the coastal areas and further inland. Approximately 80 percent of marine area contamination results from land-based activities such as municipal, industrial and agricultural waste and run-off, in addition to the deposition of atmospheric contaminants resulting from human industrial activities (CNPA, 2000; Sanger, 1987). There is a need for a wider dissemination of knowledge relevant to the importance of coastal and marine areas to the world’s well-being, and a reevaluation of societies’ attitudes towards these spaces. Good coastal and marine governance (e.g. information dissemination, management, monitoring, etc.) is therefore a key factor in the sustainable use of these environments and will require an integrated, coordinated and equitable approach (Crowe, 2000). If governance is about decision-making and steering, then up-to-date, accurate, complete, usable information (which feeds into the acquisition of knowledge) is indispensable to governance. This is especially critical in the information age of rapid changes, interconnectivity, and globalization that have brought more information to more people making them acutely aware of the unsustainable nature of current social,
economic and political use of marine and coastal spaces (Juillet and Roy, 1999; Rosell, 1999; Miles, 1998). Where informed decisions have to be made using real-time information there is a need for architecture that quickly disseminates information affecting coastal and marine resources. Accurate, up-to-date, complete and useful spatial information (on many levels) regarding the resources that currently exist, the nature of the environment within which those resources exist, as well as on the users of those resources is always a requirement for effective monitoring of coastal and marine areas. Information on (but not limited to) living and non-living resources, bathymetry, spatial extents (boundaries), shoreline changes, marine contaminants, seabed characteristics, water quality, and property rights all contribute to the sustainable development and good governance of coastal and marine resources (Nichols, Monahan and Sutherland, 2000; Nichols and Monahan, 1999).