Levin College of Law

Displacement of Traditional Coastal Communities: Analysis of the Problem and Proposed Solutions

Coastal communities worldwide, many of which rely heavily on fishing as a primary livelihood activity, are in danger of displacement or have already been displaced from their historic locations. Displacement can occur from fisheries collapse, destruction by storm events (hurricanes and tsunamis), shifting coastal land, sea level rise, increasing property values and taxes, and fisheries regulations that make it difficult to earn a living through fishing. While displacement usually involves more than one factor, increases in global tourism and the recent real estate boom have led to an accelerated rate of coastal community displacement in many parts of the world.

In Costa Rica, coastal areas have experienced rapid and usually unplanned tourism and residential development. This has caused land values to skyrocket and has left many traditional coastal communities without basic rights like land tenure and/or access to coastal land, access to electricity and potable water, housing, and other public services.


As a first step toward developing solutions to this problem, this clinic project undertook an analysis of the current laws and institutions in Costa Rica that deal with the planning and management of coastal areas. It also included an analysis of how the U.S. states of Florida, Maine and North Carolina are protecting the rights of traditional coastal residents through “working waterfronts” initiatives.


DiCamillo, Nicole (University of California Los Angeles); Hotaling, Althea (University of Florida); Villalobos, Fresia (Universidad de Costa Rica). “Desplazamiento de Comunidades Costeras: Análisis del Problema y Posibles Soluciones en Costa Rica y el Mundo.”

Published: August 30th, 2012

Category: Academics

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