Investigating options on how to address cumulative impacts in marine spatial planning
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an important aspect of the current European, UK and Scottish environmental agenda. The European Commission's recently published draft directive to create a common framework for MSP and integrated coastal management in EU waters and coastal areas is an indication that the sustainable management of marine and coastal waters is a pressing issue. The development of the Shetland Islands' Marine Spatial Plan (SMSP) was initiated by the Scottish Government in 2006 and is an example of a progressive regional marine spatial plan. The SMSP has successfully provided a policy framework and baseline spatial data to guide the placement of marine developments. Through policy, it provides suggestions, proposes directions and highlights opportunity for development. A model which maps cumulative pressures around the Shetland Islands, based on an ecosystem-based risk assessment and extensive knowledge of existing marine activities and uses, is the next step in identifying areas for action and marine policy formulation. This model may be used in comparable marine plan regions with access to comprehensive mapped activity data and local expertise to develop their own methodologies in addressing cumulative impacts. This research also aligns with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive which requires an analysis of the predominant pressures and impacts, including human activity, on the environmental status of marine waters which inter alia covers the main cumulative and synergetic effects.