This research explores how the coast of Chile has been occupied and used by industrial coastal facilities. It seeks to identify what are the present challenges facing the coastal facilities in Chile, given the past development, and how can future facilities be developed to deliver a more sustainable approach.
The Chilean coast shows complexities to deploy infrastructure along it, specifically the obstacles of finding areas with shelter and adequate depth. Despite the existence of high-level policies for its use, poor implementation is evidenced. This is confirmed by interviewed experts, which also note the relevance of a proper use of the coast to foster the country’s development. A case study on Mejillones bay, which is considered as a best-practice in terms of managed area with over 20 coastal facilities, is analysed. Metrics of occupancy in time and space, coastal facilities uses and rates of utilisation are evaluated. Findings reveal high occupancy, redundancy in uses and underutilisation, all confirming that policies only operate at high level and do not influence decisions in practice.
Consequently, present challenges are identified and future challenges explored in a business-as-usual trend. The first ones correspond to: finiteness of the coast, multiplicity of interests and demand for new infrastructure. From these, unavailability of coast, a sustainable coastal management and a growing demand of maritime services are discussed as future challenges.
Guidelines, based on sustainability principles, are proposed to face these in strategic and operational levels to reorient decision-making and enhance infrastructure deployment. Finally, a discussion on guidelines’ implementation is incorporated reinforcing the importance of actually implementing a policy.