This paper proposes a preliminary investigation of possibility and evidence theories in a risk analysis of a vertical breakwater. The results obtained from both theories are presented and compared to the Monte Carlo simulations. This study indicates that the evidence theory approach is more flexible than the possibility theory approach and may provide a useful tool for a joint handling of variability and imprecision in the computation of risk. On the other hand, the possibility theory approach may have a good potential to be used for risk assessment of coastal structures, when sufficient data are not available. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.