Yلٌez-Arancibia، نويسنده , , Alejandro and Day، نويسنده , , John W.، نويسنده ,
This is the introductory paper to the special issue on Coastal Management in the Gulf of Mexico large marine ecosystem. The Gulf of Mexico is the largest open water body of internationally protected habitats in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a semi-enclosed sea and is the ninth largest body of water in the world. The Gulf region covers more than 1,942,500 km2 including open water areas and coastal wetlands with input from 33 major river systems. There are 207 significant estuarine systems, and extensive barrier-islands with coastal lagoons, both in the United States and Mexico. The Gulfʹs drainage system covers more than 60% of the US and more than 40% of Mexico, with a coastline of 2934 km in the US and 3200 km—including the Caribbean littoral—in Mexico. The Exclusive Economic Zones of three countries, USA, Mexico and Cuba, converge in the Gulf. The Gulf constitutes a “Large Marine Ecosystem” LME that includes freshwater continental drainage from five countries. The Gulf is an international aquatic–terrestrial ecosystem and must be analyzed, protected and used in such a way as to optimize the economic and environmental returns from the exploitation of its resources. The 48 million people in the US and the 15 million people in Mexico who live in the coastal states require stronger cooperation. There is immediate need for cooperation regarding such issues as investment, tourism, agriculture, fishing, health and environment, education and culture, infrastructure, communications, financing, trade, institutional arrangements, and sustainable development. Many of these issues are geographic in nature, whereas some are tied not only to geography but the use of the body of water that links them. Thus, they are water dependent. The Gulf of Mexico is a shared resource at risk, with the following major problems: (a) freshwater use and shortage, (b) pollution, (c) habitat modification, (d) unsustainable exploitation of living resources, (e) global change (sea level rise, temperature increase and change in rainfall patterns), (f) public education, and (g) lack of political interest. However, no plan for the management of the Gulf of Mexico as a whole exists, and integrative studies are still scarce in spite of much study of ecosystems and resources. Because of this, there is a special need for attention to and reinforcement of integrative, collaborative efforts because the Gulf is a bi-national priority region and focus of attention at world level. Currents efforts include the Gulf of Mexico Program (US Environmental Protection Agency) and coastal initiatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, and the Management Program ICZM-Gulf/Caribbean (SEMARNAT, INECOL A.C.) in Mexico. The challenge for the future for coastal management in the Gulf of Mexico should be towards a combination of integrated coastal management with large marine ecosystem management.