With the increasing need for and emergence of research on ocean and coastal issues in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ocean & Coastal Management journal presents this Special Issue with relevant articles within the scope of Coastal Management in times of COVID-19. This Special Issue received 43 tentative abstracts, 29 manuscripts were submitted, and finally, 12 articles were accepted. We provide a wide panorama of those twelve articles that integrate the special issue, covering a diverse range of topics regarding coastal management in the COVID-19 pandemic. Seven papers are studies that discuss environmental and social problems during this time in coastal zones, while the other five explore the use of technology to face COVID-19 on beaches. These twelve articles give some insights to improve coastal management, focused on tourist beaches, natural disasters, and fisheries. In sum, this special issue offers an organized compendium of high-level articles, as a contribution to evolve towards the better ocean and coastal management within the rapid emerging of publications about COVID-19.
COVID-19 has become what may be the most troubling and complex pandemic that humanity has endured. The pandemic has dramatically impacted prevailing social and economic systems and practices, and triggered profound human health, development and socio-psychological impacts on individuals, families, social groups, enterprises and nations around the world (Alcántara-Ayala et al., 2021; Acuto, 2020; Nathan et al., 2020; Schipper et al., 2020; Wells et al., 2020). We have already grown accustomed to hearing that we live in a “new normality”, though in fact there is no such thing as normality in the present situation, but rather a transition towards reconfigured social and human-environment interactions. These changes and associated uncertainties have global ramifications, with significant impacts and implications for coastal cities and settlements, including how to manage coastal and marine activities. This Special Issue explores the impacts and coastal management implications of COVID-19, including beach management, tourism, fisheries, shipping, and other coastal activities impacted by the pandemic.
The COVID pandemic brings to the fore the complex interconnections between human and social-ecological system health and coastal governance in an age of climate and global change. Responding to the pandemic and planning for sustainable coastal development needs to account for this complexity and the associated uncertainties that shape policy provisions and processes (e.g., Walker et al., 2003). These uncertainties take different forms: 1) Technical and methodological uncertainty: For example, the statistical and methodological uncertainties inherent in modelling Sars-Cov-2 aerial transmission on beaches and the determination of a safe distance between beach users; 2) Epistemological uncertainty: For example, limited data and knowledge for prioritizing one set of management actions above others, such as whether or not to (re)open, partially or not, beaches or should take advantage of this moment to promote environmental recovery of these systems?; and 3) Ontological uncertainty (indeterminacy): For example, our lack of understanding about coastal dynamics and the multitude of ways in which people interact with and within coastal social-ecological systems and consequent implications for decision-making in the face of indeterminacy, especially in the long term (e.g.,Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1993; Kovacic, 2015; Bombana et al., 2021). In the face of such uncertainties and complexity, this Special Issue shines a light on a critical question for coastal managers and governors: What are the key coastal governance challenges in this age of COVID-19?