Marking the occasion of European Maritime Day, on 20 May, the Universidade Lusíada de Lisboa will host the 3rd International Conference on “Protecting the Coastal and Marine Environment”. As before, this event will include targeted discussions, and in this edition will address the sustainable development of the seacoast and protection of the marine environment, with a focus on the noxious impact of human actions and the future of the human race. Aside from accounting for more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, marine ecosystems remain poorly understood compared to terrestrial ecosystems. We know more about the surface of the Moon than the bottom of the sea.
Coastal and marine ecosystems, which are extremely fragile and complex, are home to some of the most valuable species of fauna and flora, underscoring the need to raise awareness and engage the issues surrounding their protection. We must examine the effectiveness and appropriateness of the legal instruments to spare them from over-exploitation, as well as the need (or not) of a system of marine governance over human actions on the sea and in the littoral regions. Considering that 60% of the world’s human population lives in coastal regions and 80% of world tourism is in such areas, the phenomenon of “littoralization” that affects many countries including Portugal, places constant urbanization pressure on these regions – and not just on the coastal ecosystems – all of which brings considerable risks to the people living there. These risks are exacerbated even further by climate change, the effects of which are raising great peril for the marine environment – highlighting the urgency of seeking measures to address the deteriorating situation, and assigning priorities of action for countering, or at least minimizing, the threats.