The participative, ‘bottom-up’ approaches of contemporary European ICZM (integrated coastal zone management) are ineffectual and unsustainable. The approach lacks the authority and resources to deliver ICZM and should be abandoned. A new model of ICZM in a predominantly sectoral administrative framework is presented. It requires that capacity be built in existing statutory authorities and in-house ICZM groups be established. Time-limited participatory projects would be used to gain information on conflicts and issues that transcend existing sectoral boundaries, but this information would be passed to the established statutory authorities for action. A sound statutory and legislative basis is the essential prerequisite for effective coastal management – not voluntary partnerships.