The ‘triple whammy’ of coasts under threat – Why we should be worried!

Publicado en Marine Pollution Bulletin, 163, 1-5.

Defeo O. & Elliot M.

Año de publicación 2020
  • UNDECIMAR, Faculty of Sciences, Iguá 4225, 11400 Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Department of Biological and Marine Sciences, The University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, UK
  • International Estuarine & Coastal Specialists Ltd, Leven HU17 5LQ, UK
  • Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (grant SGP-HW 017)
Proyecto SGP-HW 017
PDFThe ‘triple whammy’ of coasts under threat – Why we should be worried.pdf


Many major and mega-cities have developed on coasts worldwide, thereby increasing reliance on coasts for human habitation and infra- structure, commerce and industry (ports and transport), and tourism and recreation (Small and Nicholls, 2003 Defeo et al., 2009 Sengupta et al., 2020 Defeo et al., in revision). This results from the benefits to human welfare, health and well-being by living on or visiting the coast (Barbier et al., 2011 Bindoff et al., 2019). However, all of this produces adverse pressures, superimposed on which are the repercussions of global climate changes. Because of this, we contend, and summarise our concern, that coasts and their ecosystems worldwide are facing three major threats &ndash (1) increasing urbanisation and industrialisation, (2) increasing use of resources such as water, seafood and space, and (3) increasing susceptibility and decreasing resilience and resistance to the effects of climate change and its related stressors (e.g., sea level rise, warming) &ndash this is what may be called a &lsquotriple whammy&rsquo (NB, a &lsquowhammy&rsquo is defined in the Collins English Dictionary as &lsquosomething which has a great, often negative, impact&rsquo, colloquially as a punch!) (Fig. 1). As such, we emphasise that these three major threats are acting synergistically, impairing the capacity of coastal systems to provide food, protect live- lihoods, satisfy recreation, maintain biodiversity and water quality, and afford protection from extreme climate events (McLachlan et al., 2013 Duarte et al., 2020 Grases et al., 2020). Here we aim to present, explain and explore the triple whammy.