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Nicaragua: Pacific coast
Jameson, S.C.; Gallucci, V.F.; Robleto, J.A. (2000). Nicaragua: Pacific coast, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. pp. 531-543
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 934 pp., more

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Document type: Review


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  • Jameson, S.C.
  • Gallucci, V.F.
  • Robleto, J.A.

    Nicaragua is the largest country in central America, with a coastline of 305 km. Its relatively dry western slopes have attracted farmers since colonial times. The area is tropical, but relatively dry, and consequently supports a tropical fauna. By the mid-1960s cotton was cultivated on 80% of the arable land along the Pacific coast which led to widespread deforestation, erosion, and biocide contamination, and reduced the original vegetation cover by 90%. In 1994 the country had approximately 155,000 ha of mangroves, about 45% of which were located on the Pacific Coast, but this has been reduced by over half by deforestation. The Gulf of Fonseca is a deep embayment and is one of the most important coastal ecosystems of the region, shared with Honduras and El Salvador. Several rivers drain into it, but these rivers now also deposit large quantities of sediments and pollutants arising from changes in drainage regimes and up-hill deforestation. It is heavily populated by almost 500,000 people; it is economically important because it is a place of trade and commercial activities between the three countries, and opportunities to exploit the natural resources of this rich environment have attracted many people who have in turn further compounded the degradation and loss of valuable natural resources. Shrimp aquaculture is very important here. Several hundred species of demersal fish are commonly taken as by-catch in the shrimp fisheries, but do not sustain commercial fisheries. Significant fisheries on small coastal pelagic fish, such as the Central Pacific anchovetta and Pacific thread herring, have existed in the Gulf of Panama since the 1950s, but currently most of the production is used for fish meal and oil. The most valuable fish off Nicaragua are tuna (yellowfin, skipjack, and bigeye tuna) caught mainly by fleets from overseas. Serious population-related problems include pollution, lack of facilities for solid waste disposal, lack of basic infrastructure, and lack of integrated planning to prepare for natural hazards, problems related to mining, and cultural displacement of natives. Several areas of Nicaraguan law need modification to effectively manage the nation's coastal resources. Therefore, integrated management is needed to ensure that the potential value of the natural resources contributes to the sustainable development of the Pacific coast. Some of Nicaragua's Pacific marine and coastal resources have been over-exploited, degraded or destroyed. However, they offer great potential to improve the quality of life for the Nicaraguan people and the condition of the Pacific Central American Coastal Large Marine Ecosystem. The government understands the value of these resources and has received excellent natural resource management guidance and technical assistance. Preventing mismanagement and destruction of these resources and ecosystems, which has occurred in other Central American countries, now depends on effective government and the ability of the Nicaraguan people to work together as a united nation.

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