Marine spatial planning (MSP) has been put forward as a way to more comprehensively manage marine environments by balancing human demands and protecting areas that support ecosystem function. Given the recent motivations for countries to adopt large-scale marine spatial planning approaches, ensuring these plans are grounded in social-ecological resilience theories is essential for long-term success. Drawing upon recent academic attention from a range of disciplinary areas, this review explores current practices and applied examples of published case studies from around the world that have integrated social and ecological spatial information using GIS techniques. This review intended to use these case studies to guide directions of future MSP research that considers social-ecological resilience theories. Five overall themes were uncovered. First, extractive uses, such as fisheries, were often given priority in MSP processes, which even though important, may undermine the social resilience of coastal communities by not supporting the diversity of non-extractive economies. Second, the quality of ecological spatial data used in the studies varied greatly, often with little consideration of how ongoing human demands may influence long-term ecological resilience. Thrid, many GIS techniques were used to integrate social and ecological data including: descriptive maps, site prioritisation techniques, and predictive modelling. Lastly, only a small number of studies considered cross-ecosystem influences and only two incorporated potential climate change impacts on social institutions and marine ecosystems. Overall, there is a need for progressing GIS predictive modelling techniques to assess and link the responses of social and ecological systems to MSP solutions in order to support long-term social-ecological resilience.
Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
Marine spatial planning (MSP) seeks to integrate traditionally disconnected oceans activities, management arrangements, and practices through a rational and comprehensive governance system. This article explores the emerging critical literature on MSP, focusing on key elements of MSP engaged by scholars: (1) planning discourse and narrative; (2) ocean economies and equity; (3) online ocean data and new digital ontologies; and (4) new and broad networks of ocean actors. The implications of these elements are then illustrated through a discussion of MSP in the United States. Critical scholars are beginning to go beyond applied or operational critiques of MSP projects to engage the underlying assumptions, practices, and relationships involved in planning. Interrogating MSP with interdisciplinary ideas drawn from critical social science disciplines, such as emerging applications of relational theory at sea, can provide insights into how MSP and other megaprojects both close and open new opportunities for social and environmental well-being.
This research reveals attitudes towards enclosure and privatisation of ocean space. The development of spatially distributed industries like marine renewables and aquaculture, the need for marine conservation, and the ongoing emphasis on spatial aspects of marine planning, have resulted in increasing encroachment into the marine environment. The study, situated in Scotland, investigates the attitudes of stakeholders who are affecting, or being affected by, these processes. The attitude analysis, done by Q methodology, highlights potentially conflicting priorities and processes. Five unique factors emerged. These are expressed as: free seas, the ‘greater good’, mitigating losses, local powers, and the status quo. The topography of views revealed demonstrates clear tensions between key players in Scotland's marine planning landscape, and calls into question the processes for effective collaborative working for sustainable and conflict-free development at sea. The paper concludes with an appeal for changes in rights to be accounted for in decision making processes, accompanied by better dissemination of information regarding rights at sea, governance and the future of the blue economy.
Although stakeholder participation is transversal to other steps of the Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) process, its recognition and adoption is context dependent. Considering that MSP plans need to be periodically evaluated, not only in relation to their outputs and outcomes, but also through an analysis of the processes used to achieve the results, criteria to evaluate participation throughout the whole process are needed. However, a robust and comprehensive assessment framework focused specifically on participation is not available up to date. Therefore, this study proposed an assessment for such operational analysis in order to support assessment of consequences related to the participatory strategy chosen (e.g., increased social acceptance). A Stakeholder Participation Assessment Framework (SPAF) was developed and divided in two phases: Phase I based on key theoretical aspects ‘why, who, when and how to engage stakeholders’, as well as on criteria for costs (these five criteria were divided in 15 sub-criteria, and instructions based on social science knowledge to analyse each one were given); and Phase II in which a list of questions about participatory consequences can be addressed based on specific criteria of the first phase and stakeholders' feedback. SPAF can be used not only to evaluate MSP planning cycles but also to plan meaningful participatory processes; therefore, contributing to strengthen MSP processes and to promote more horizontal and integrated ocean governance approaches.
Marine coastal environments are often socially complex public areas that need equitable spatial planning approaches. Understanding the extent of extractive and non-extractive uses and the social dynamics that may be driving patterns of use is essential if the spatial plan is to support the social resilience of a marine area. In this study, a combination of fuzzy-set multi-criteria GIS modelling and negative tie social network analysis were used to explore social uses and conflicts based on sketch-mapping interviews with five key stakeholder groups (ecotourism, Aboriginal Traditional Owners, commercial and recreational fishing, and water sports) within a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Most of the areas within the MPA were regularly used by the stakeholders, with non-extractive and extractive stakeholders occupying similar spatial extents, with each stakeholder group having a different pattern of use. However, stakeholder groups had different levels of perceived priority to access these areas and support of the current spatial management plan, especially within the ecotourism and Aboriginal Traditional Owner groups. The investigation of social conflicts in shaping patterns of use revealed that most stakeholder conflicts do not necessarily occur in areas of overlaps, but generally in areas of high biodiversity and easy access through marine infrastructure. Ecotourism groups had the most perceived conflicts over marine space, which shaped their use towards certain no-take zones that protected high biodiversity and would also provide protection from other conflicting stakeholder uses (e.g., boating, fishing). Overall, the method outlined in this paper presents a way for marine spatial management to consider not only the extent and diversity of social uses in a marine environment but also the spatial-social dynamics that may determine the success of the spatial plan in supporting long-term social resilience.
After a spout of optimism surrounding Myanmar's so-called democratic transition in the post-2010 period, civil-society organisations and academics are beginning to highlight rampant and violent resource grabs unfolding across the country. Delving into the Northern Tanintharyi landscape in the Southeast, this article aims to understand interrelated dynamics of coastal and agrarian transformation during the state-mediated capitalist transition of the past 30 years. Conceptually developing a landscape-approach that sees individual ‘grabs’ in a relational manner and as part of broader political-economic struggles, the article shows how the Myanmar military regime sought a conjoined ocean and land control-grab in pursuit of rent extraction from productive foreign capital in fisheries and off-shore gas sectors. Empirically, these dynamics are traced from the scale of regional geopolitical struggles down to two particular villages in Northern Tanintharyi – highlighting resulting processes of differentiation along lines of class and gender. This conceptual framework and explanation of drivers behind ocean and land control-grabbing, in turn, complicates prevalent policy solutions in Myanmar (and elsewhere) that reduce the question of resolving resource-grabs to the pursuit of an elusive ‘good governance’.
This study re-examines the marine spatial planning (MSP) process for Germany's North Sea exclusive economic zone (EEZ), one of the earliest European examples of MSP. It does so in order to answer whether in this case MSP was an example of post-political planning (Swyngedouw, 2010; Tafon, 2018; Tafon et al., 2018). Building on earlier research (Jay et al., 2012; Kannen, 2014), the analysis adopts a political ecology perspective, and uses a stakeholder analysis and interviews to identify main actors in the MSP process and their interests in and perceptions of the North Sea, its management and the MSP process. The results confirm earlier research that MSP was used strategically to facilitate offshore wind energy development at the expense of other uses. MSP resolved some matters of spatial competition but not all, and solved few underlying conflicts, since these involve deep-seated tensions among diverse actor perceptions of the North Sea and its management. The research finds the German North Sea EEZ remains a politicized environment, in which MSP is a post-political approach to planning. The research highlights inter-agency tensions and politics as further signs that MSP as post-political planning has not eliminated politics in sea management.
- Understanding marine mammal distributions is essential for conservation, as it can help identify critical habitat where management action can be taken. The semi‐enclosed Gulf of Corinth, Greece, has been identified as an Important Marine Mammal Area by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force, based on the regular occurrence of odontocete populations. A 7‐year (2011–17) dataset of boat‐based surveys was used to model and predict the distribution of striped dolphins, Stenella coeruleoalba, common dolphins, Delphinus delphis, and common bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in the entire Gulf (2400 km2).
- Multiple geographic, bathymetric, oceanographic, and anthropogenic variables were incorporated in a combined generalized additive model and generalized estimation equation (GAM‐GEE) framework to describe dolphin occurrence and produce distribution maps.
- Modelling indicated that striped and common dolphins prefer deep waters (>300 m) in the central and southern part of the Gulf, whereas bottlenose dolphins prefer shallow waters (<300 m) and areas close to fish farms along the northern–central shore.
- Model‐based maps of the predicted distribution identified a preferred habitat encompassing most of the Gulf, also revealing: (i) hot spots of dolphin distribution covering about 40% of the Gulf's surface; (ii) an almost complete overlap of striped and common dolphin distribution, consistent with the hypothesis that common dolphins modified their habitat preferences to live in mixed species groups with striped dolphins; (iii) a clear partitioning of striped/common and bottlenose dolphin habitat; and (iv) the important role played by fish farms for bottlenose dolphins, consistent with studies conducted elsewhere in Greece.
- Evidence provided by this study calls for area‐specific and species‐specific management measures to mitigate anthropogenic impacts.
Coasts are among our most valuable natural assets but are under intense pressure from human use and climate change. Despite this, coasts – as a coherent ecological unit – have been poorly included in conservation plans, largely because they are inadequately delineated. There are usually gaps and overlaps at the edges of the separate terrestrial-, estuarine- and marine-realm maps, and often no clarity on which specific coastal boundary (e.g., high-water mark) was used, other than vaguely, ‘the coastline’. This particularly compromises conservation and management of ecotonal, intertidal ecosystems along realm-map seams because they are poorly defined and mapped. Therefore, a key step in advancing coastal conservation, assessment, planning and management is to generate a fine-scale ecosystem-type map that is seamless across realms. We undertook this for South Africa, aiming to delineate the ecotone into ecologically meaningful zones comprising structurally and functionally appropriate ecosystem types. We defined and mapped (at <1:3000) the ‘seashore’ as the land-sea interface between the dune scrub-thicket break and the back of the surf zone. The seashore is divided at the dune base into a landward ‘backshore’ and seaward ‘shore’, with the inherent dynamic variability included in the boundary delineation and constituent ecosystem types. Estuaries were also embedded into the map. Finally, we created rules for including adjacent terrestrial and marine ecosystem types in an ecologically determined coastal zone. We describe what tools this seashore integration and coastal delineation has unlocked, and how this places South Africa in a strong position to manage and conserve its coast.
Fishing catch is often used as a cost in marine conservation planning to avoid areas of high fishing activity when identifying potential marine reserve locations. However, the theory of marine reserves indicates that reserves are more likely to benefit fisheries in areas of heavy fishing activity that would otherwise be overfished. Whether or not fishing catch is calculated as a cost depends on the balance of conservation and fisheries goals for a reserve, and thus is critical for policymakers to consider when designing marine reserve networks. This research shows the utility of running an inverted cost model of fishery catches during marine reserve spatial prioritization as a first step in a marine planning process oriented towards stabilizing local fisheries. This technique serves as a heuristic tool that may help conservation planners explore regions that would otherwise be overlooked if fisheries data were absent or integrated purely as a cost in the planning process. Drawing on data from Madagascar to illustrate our approach, this research demonstrates that the regions most frequently selected using the inverted cost model not only meet conservation targets, but are also those most accessible to community-based resource managers, the dominant management paradigm in Madagascar as well as in many developing countries.