The Adriatic and Ionian Region (AIR) is an important area for both strategic maritime development and biodiversity conservation in the European Union (EU). However, given that both EU and non‐EU countries border the sea, multiple legal and regulatory frameworks operate at different scales which can hinder the coordinated long‐term sustainable development of the region. Transboundary marine (or maritime) spatial planning can help overcome these challenges by building consensus on planning objectives and making the trade‐offs between biodiversity conservation and its influence on economically important sectors more explicit. We approach this challenge by developing and testing four spatial prioritization strategies, using the decision‐support tool Marxan, which meets targets for biodiversity conservation whilst minimizing impacts to users. We evaluate these strategies in terms of how priority areas shift under different scales of target‐setting (e.g. regional versus country‐level). We also examine the trade‐off between cost‐efficiency and how equally solutions represent countries and maritime industries (N = 14) operating in the region using the Protection Equality metric. We show that there are negligible differences in where priority conservation areas are located when we set targets for biodiversity at the regional versus country scale. Conversely, the prospective impacts on industries, when considered as costs to be minimized, are highly divergent across scenarios and bias the placement of protection towards industries located in isolation or with few other industries. We conclude by making several recommendations to underpin future MSP efforts in the region, including the identification of: 1) areas of national significance, 2) transboundary areas requiring cooperation between countries, and 3) areas where impacts on maritime industries require careful consideration of the trade‐off between biodiversity conservation and socio‐economic objectives.
Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
The competition for marine space is a recognized challenge, and the implementation of new activities, such as those emerging from Blue Growth initiatives, may amplify this competition. The marine spatial planning (MSP) framework requires decision makers to analyse spatially explicit environmental and socio-economic data to determine where user conflicts are or might emerge and consider several potential management scenarios. In the present research, a spatially explicit Bayesian belief network (BBN) was applied for this purpose. The BBN was developed to analyse the potential reallocation of artisanal fishing effort to alternative sites due to the introduction of a new, non-take area: an offshore aquaculture site along the Basque continental shelf. The constructed model combined discrete, operational fisheries data, continuous environmental data, and expert judgment to produce fishing activity suitability maps for three different métiers (longlines, nets and traps). The BBN was run with various effort reallocation scenarios for each metier, and the best alternative fishing locations were identified based on environmental suitability, past revenue, and past fishing presence. The closure had a lesser effect on net and longline activity, displacing 10% and 7% of local fishing effort respectively. Comparatively, 50% of all local effort by traps took place within the closed grounds, and few alternative sites were identified. Nets were found to have the greatest number of alternative fishing grounds surrounding the aquaculture site. The present research demonstrates how BBNs can support spatially explicit scenario building and user-user conflict analysis for sustainable and successful ecosystem-based marine spatial planning.
Understanding the influence of multiple ecosystem drivers, both natural and anthropogenic, and how they vary across space is critical to the spatial management of coral reef fisheries. In Hawaii, as elsewhere, there is uncertainty with regards to how areas should be selected for protection, and management efforts prioritized. One strategy is to prioritize efforts based on an area's biomass baseline, or natural capacity to support reef fish populations. Another strategy is to prioritize areas based on their recovery potential, or in other words, the potential increase in fish biomass from present-day state, should management be effective at restoring assemblages to something more like their baseline state. We used data from 717 fisheries-independent reef fish monitoring surveys from 2012 to 2015 around the main Hawaiian Islands as well as site-level data on benthic habitat, oceanographic conditions, and human population density, to develop a hierarchical, linear Bayesian model that explains spatial variation in: (1) herbivorous and (2) total reef fish biomass. We found that while human population density negatively affected fish assemblages at all surveyed areas, there was considerable variation in the natural capacity of different areas to support reef fish biomass. For example, some areas were predicted to have the capacity to support ten times as much herbivorous fish biomass as other areas. Overall, the model found human population density to have negatively impacted fish biomass throughout Hawaii, however the magnitude and uncertainty of these impacts varied locally. Results provide part of the basis for marine spatial planning and/or MPA-network design within Hawaii.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is designed partly to implement the ecosystem-based approach to the management of marine resources worldwide. This article focuses on the principles of good governance to which MSP is tied: principles of transparency and participation. With increasing efforts to analyse the impact of MSP, it is timely to explore its commitment to these principles of good governance. Guided by governance theory this paper explores the opportunities that exist in Scotland's MSP system for communities to voice their opinions in decision-making processes. Whilst authorities in Scotland are doing a good job of transferring the National Marine Plan to local planning regions, there are some issues relating to planning partnerships in these regions and the activities of the Crown Estate. Further analysis is offered by considering terrestrial planning in Scotland, where communities often feel excluded and are challenging the status quo in planning processes through alternative, informal governance arrangements. The roles and rights of communities have taken centre stage in land reform debates, which has not been the case in MSP. By looking outward (and inland) it might be possible to design a more adaptable and inclusive MSP system.
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.
This research presents a comprehensive Cumulative Effects Assessment (CEA) based on the Tools4MSP modelling framework tested for the Italian Adriatic Sea. The CEA incorporates five methodological advancements: (1) linear and non-linear ecosystem response to anthropogenic pressures/effects, (2) modelling of additive, dominant and antagonist stressor effects, (3) implementation of a convolution distance model for stressor dispersion modelling, (4) application of a CEA backsourcing (CEA-B) model to identify and quantify sources of anthropogenic pressures affecting environmental components, based on the convolution distance model and (5) a novel CEA impact chain visualization tool based on Sankey diagrams. Results from CEA in the Italian Adriatic Sea show that highest CEA scores are located in the Northern Adriatic Sea (Port of Trieste and Venice Lagoon inlets) while abrasion, marine litter and selective extraction are the most pronounced pressures within the 12 nm. Results from CEA-B application for two case studies evidence a clear distinction among local human impacts (trawling, small scale fishery) versus long-range diffusive human impacts (underwater noise and marine litter). Results were discussed for their geospatial outcomes, importance for transboundary effects assessment, conservation planning and future application potentials.
Many coastlines throughout the world are retreating, as a result of erosion and sea level rise. The damage incurred to property, infrastructure, coastal flood defence, and the loss of ecosystem services and agricultural land have substantial economic repercussions. For many coastal regions located in developing countries, the assessment of the spatial extent of coastal erosion is very time-consuming and is often hampered by lack of data. To investigate the suitability of global open access data for coastal erosion assessments at regional scale six biogeophysical variables (geological layout, waves, sediment balance, tides, storms, and vegetation) were integrated using the Coastal Hazard Wheel approach (CHW). Original datasets with global coverage were retrieved from the internet and from various research institutes. The data were processed and assigned to the CHW classes, so that the CHW method could be applied to assess coastal erosion hazard levels. The data can be viewed in the Coastal Hazard Wheel App (www.coastalhazardwheel.org) that also allows the coastal erosion hazard levels to be determined for each point at coastlines around the world. The application of the CHW with global open access data was tested for the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Colombia and revealed a high to very high erosion hazard along 47% of the Caribbean coast and along 23% of the Pacific coast. The application provides additional information on capital stock near the coast, as a tentative indication of assets at risk. This approach provides a straightforward and uniform erosion hazard identification method that can be used for spatial planning on coastal developments at a regional scale.
Timely information is critical for coral reef managers and decision-makers to implement sustainable management measures. A Coral Reef Resilience Index (CRRI) was developed with a GIS-coupled decision-making tool applicable for Caribbean coral reef ecosystems. The CRRI is based on a five-point scale parameterized from the quantitative characterization of benthic assemblages. Separate subindices such as the Coral Index, the Threatened Species Index, and the Algal Index also provide specific information regarding targeted benthic components. This case study was based on assessments conducted in 2014 on 11 reef sites located across 3 geographic zones and 3 depth zones along the southwestern shelf of the island of Puerto Rico, Caribbean Sea. There was a significant spatial and bathymetric gradient (p < 0.05) in the distribution of CRRI values indicating higher degradation of inshore reefs. Mean global CRRI ranged from 2.78 to 3.17 across the shelf, ranking them as “fair.” The Coral Index ranged from 2.60 to 3.76, ranking reefs from “poor” to “good,” showing a general cross-shelf trend of improving conditions with increasing distance from pollution sources. Turbidity and ammonia were significantly correlated to CRRI scores. Multiple recommendations are provided based on coral reef conditions according to observed CRRI rankings.
Despite the increasing attention given to marine spatial planning and the widely acknowledged need for transnational policy coordination, regional coherence has not yet improved a great deal in the Baltic Sea region. Therefore, the main objectives in this article are: (a) to map existing governance structures at all levels that influence how domestic marine spatial planning policy strategies are formed, (b) to identify specific challenges to improved regional cooperation and coordination, and (c) to discuss possible remedies. Based on data from in-depth case studies carried out in the BONUS BALTSPACE research project, it is shown that, despite the shared goal of sustainability and efficient resource use in relevant EU Directives, action plans and other policy instruments, domestic plans are emerging in diverse ways, mainly reflecting varying domestic administrative structures, sectoral interests, political prioritisations, and handling of potentially conflicting policy objectives. A fruitful distinction can be made between, on the one hand, regulatory institutions and structures above the state level where decision-making mechanisms are typically grounded in consensual regimes and, on the other hand, bilateral, issue-specific collaboration, typically between adjacent countries. It is argued that, to improve overall marine spatial planning governance, these two governance components need to be brought together to improve consistency between regional alignment and to enhance opportunities for countries to collaborate at lower levels. Issue-specific transnational working groups or workshops can be one way to identify and act upon such potential synergies.
The development of offshore wind energy and other competing interests in sea space are a major incentive for designating marine and coastal areas for specific human activities. Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) considers human activities at sea in a more integrated way by analysing and designating spatial and temporal distributions of human activities based on ecological, economic and social targets. However, specific tools supporting spatial decisions at sea incorporating all relevant sectors are rarely adopted. The decision support tool Marxan is traditionally used for systematic selection and designation of nature protection and conservation areas. In this study, Marxan was applied as a support tool to identify suitable sites for offshore wind power in the pilot area Pomeranian Bight / Arkona Basin in the western Baltic Sea. The software was successfully tested and scenarios were developed that support the sites indicated in existing national plans, but also show options for alternative developments of offshore wind power in the Pomeranian Bight / Arkona Basin area.