Tensions between achieving good environmental status and blue growth in Europe's seas are increasing?

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By Dr Peter JS Jones, Dept of Geography, University College London (P.J.Jones [at] ucl.ac.uk)

Recent developments and assessments indicate that the tensions between achieving good environmental status and blue growth in Europe's seas are increasing.

We were out there on our own for a while in arguing that the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (MSPD) that is presently going through the EU trilateral decision-making process could increase tensions between blue growth and achieving good environmental status [1]. Recent developments with the MSPD are serving to align the priority of achieving good environmental status through adopting an ecosystem-based approach alongside the need for blue growth, in a way that has worried some [2]. It is the tension between the ecosystem-based approach and the blue growth approach that we try and illustrate in the Acropolis figure in a recent paper (came up with this in a workshop in Athens!) [3]. A recent EEA report [4] indicates that less than 20% of marine biodiversity features are at a good environmental status so the focus on blue growth could increase these tensions and potentially worsen the prospects for achieving good environmental status of Europe's seas?

[1] Proposed MSP Directive for EU - an unnecessary agenda for 'smart' blue growth?

[2] EP disregards NGOs’ call for sustainable maritime planning, favouring short-sighted Blue Growth instead

[3] Qiu W. and Jones P.J.S. (2013) The Emerging Policy Landscape for Marine Spatial Planning in Europe. Marine Policy 39(1), 182-190Open access paper available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2012.10.010 

[4] http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/marine-messages
"Whether looking at species (fish, mammals, birds, invertebrates or reptiles) or marine habitats (water column, seabed), less than 20 % (often much lower) of all biodiversity features (i.e. species, habitats and ecosystems) are considered as being in Good Environmental Status. This pattern is consistent throughout all the marine regions." (p.10) "Early results from the United Kingdom show that the number of all habitats on Annex I of the Habitats Directive in favourable conservation status has declined from 5 % to 3 % in the period from 2007 to 2013" (p.11)  

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