Marine spatial planning in Romania: State of the art and evidence from stakeholders
During the last decades, increasing demands on marine resources and unsustainable activities taking place in the marine area compromise the future use of the marine environment. In July 2014 the European Parliament and Council established a Guideline Framework for marine/maritime spatial planning (MSP). MSP is a useful and cost-effective tool for sustainable development, together with regulation and protection of the marine environment. Within this context, Romania has started to proceed and incorporate it in the national legislation framework; in 2017, it has also established a competent authority for its implementation so that marine spatial plans can be enacted by 31 March 2021. In this study, a first approach for MSP framework in Romania was developed, enabling the mapping of all current human activities related to shipping, oil and gas exploitation, fisheries, tourism and environmental status, in order to identify overlaps or potential conflicts among users. This paper identifies key challenges and concerns anticipated to emerge from incorporation of MSP in the national spatial planning framework as it is currently organized: a) Romanian stakeholders have a relatively poor understanding of European, national and regional sea planning regulations, b) concerns related to MSP implementation at regulatory level, c) huge need for sharing of MSP-relevant information for a coherent planning, d) challenges of assessing the needs of interconnected ecosystems (including relevant EU and international legislation). In this context, our study covers highly actual aspects concerning the way the marine spatial planning process evolves and will contribute to deliver a coherent approach to reduce conflicts of the Romanian marine environment, a proper MSP implementation, as well as minimizing the pressures and impacts on the marine resources.