The expectations on marine spatial planning to improve environmental governance of the Baltic Sea are high, not least for helping to close the huge gaps between environmental objectives and the state of the marine environment. This article focuses on the on-going implementation of marine spatial planning in Sweden, well-known to be a forerunner in environmental policy. Aiming to identify governance recommendations, the study analyses how the first consultation document for the Baltic Sea may complement existing governance systems and promote gap closure. A particular focus is placed on the potential impact of the plan on the implementation of an ecosystem approach to management (EAM) and how these issues are regarded by involved stakeholders. It is shown that the planning process promotes participation, but that the studied plan as such most likely does not significantly help to close any larger environmental goal-state gaps. A number of recommendations on how to develop the plan are discussed, but significant improvements require broader governance reforms, in particular concerning coordination and integration in relation to legislation on other marine and water strategies, as well as policies and laws for fisheries, agriculture and industrial chemicals. Major policy development is thus needed in order to allow marine spatial planning in Sweden, and most likely in several other geographical areas as well, to significantly help closing goal-state gaps in the future.
Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
Worldwide, as wild-caught commercial fisheries plateau and human demands for protein increase, marine aquaculture is expanding. Much marine aquaculture is inherently adaptable to changing climatic and chemical conditions. Nevertheless, siting of marine aquaculture operations is subject to competing environmental, economic, and social demands upon and priorities for ocean space, while some forms of marine aquaculture can also impose other externalities on marine systems, such as pollution from wastes (nutrients) and antibiotics, consumption of wild fish as food, and introduction of non-native or genetically modified species. As a result, governmental policy decisions to promote both marine aquaculture that can adapt to a changing ocean and adaptive governance for that aquaculture can become contested, requiring attention to their social legitimacy.
This article explores how the law can promote the adaptability of marine aquaculture to climate change and ocean acidification—adaptive marine aquaculture—while still preserving key rule-of-law values, such as public participation and accountability. Perhaps most obviously, law can establish substantive requirements for marine aquaculture that minimize its impacts, promoting marine resilience overall. However, to foster truly adaptive marine aquaculture, including adaptive governance institutions, coastal nations should also procedurally reform their marine spatial planning efforts to legally connect the procedures for aquaculture permitting, marine spatial planning (MSP), and adaptive management. The goals for such connections, moreover, should be to mandate new forums for public participation and creative collaboration, promote experimentation with accountability that leads to increased knowledge, and foster the emergence of adaptive governance regarding the use of marine space.
Spatial planning increasingly incorporates theoretical predictions that artificial habitats assist species movement at or beyond range edges, yet evidence for this is uncommon. We conducted surveys of highly mobile fauna (fishes) on artificial habitats (reefs) on the southeastern USA continental shelf to test whether, in comparison to natural reefs, artificial reefs enhance local abundance and biomass of fishes at their poleward range margins. Here, we show that while temperate fishes were more abundant on natural reefs, tropical, and subtropical fishes exhibited higher abundances and biomasses on deep (25–35 m) artificial reefs. Further analyses reveal that this effect depended on feeding guilds because planktivorous and piscivorous but not herbivorous fishes were more abundant on artificial reefs. This is potentially due to heightened prey availability on and structural complexity of artificial reefs. Our findings demonstrate that artificial habitats can facilitate highly mobile species at range edges and suggest these habitats assist poleward species movement.
Spatial protection measures have become ubiquitous in fisheries management and marine conservation. Implemented for diverse objectives from stock rebuilding to biodiversity protection and ecosystem management, spatial measures range from temporary fisheries closures to marine protected areas with varying levels of protection. Ecological and economic benefits from spatial protection have been demonstrated for many reef and demersal species, but remain debated and understudied for highly migratory fishes, such as tunas, billfishes, and pelagic sharks. Here we summarize the spatial extent of fisheries closures implemented by the tuna RFMOs as well as marine protected areas worldwide, which together cover ∼15% of global ocean area. We furthermore synthesize results from modeling and tagging studies as well as fisheries-dependent research to provide an overview of the efficacy and benefits of present spatial protection measures for large pelagic fishes and their associated fisheries. We conclude that (1) many species with known migration routes, aggregating behavior, and philopatry can benefit from spatial protection; but (2) spatial protection alone is insufficient and should be integrated with effective fisheries management to protect and rebuild stocks of highly migratory species. We suggest tailoring spatial protection to the biology of large pelagic fishes, including improved protection for aggregation sites and migration corridors. These features currently appear to be an important—yet overlooked— opportunity to safeguard depleted and recovering stocks and protect pelagic biodiversity. New remote-sensing tools that track pelagic fishes and fishing vessels may provide timely support for improved spatial management in waters that were previously difficult to observe.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is occurring throughout the world, as communities and nation-states seek to resolve spatial conflicts and competition in coastal areas and reduce the impacts of human uses on marine biodiversity. The Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) in British Columbia, Canada, is a successful example of collaborative marine planning between First Nations governments and the British Columbia provincial government, achieving the protection of ecological and cultural values, while supporting sustainable economic activities. The collaborative planning process was pre-dated by territorial marine planning by each participating First Nation, which allowed for the protection of First Nations governance and economy, cultural values and activities, and resource management priorities.
In 2017, South Africa became the first African country to draft Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) legislation. The underlying legal framework supports the achievement of ecological, social and economic objectives, but a national policy to fast track the oceans economy provides a challenge for ecosystem-based approaches to MSP. During the 2018 International Marine Conservation Congress, we convened a session to present particular challenges that will likely apply to any developing country seeking to increase profits from existing, or proposed, marine activities. Here we present six multi-disciplinary research projects that support ecosystem-based approaches to MSP in South Africa, by addressing the following knowledge gaps and specific key challenges: (1) the lack of data-derived measurements of ecosystem condition (and the need to validate commonly-used proxy measures); (2) the need to develop models to better understand the potential impacts of climate change on food webs and fisheries; (3) the slow implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, and the need to implement existing legal instruments that can support such an approach; (4) the paucity of evidence supporting dynamic ocean management strategies; (5) the requirement to manage conflicting objectives in growing marine tourism industries; and (6) the need to adopt systems thinking approaches to support integrated ocean management. We provide examples of specific research projects designed to address these challenges. The ultimate goal of this research is to advance a more integrated approach to ocean management in South Africa, using tools that can be applied in countries with similar socio-political and environmental contexts.
Coastal and marine areas represent an increasingly important and relevant action space for spatial planning. However, to a large extent marine (or maritime) spatial planning has emerged separately from terrestrial spatial planning, constituting its own epistemic community. In particular, previous studies indicate that Marine Spatial Planning often follows an expert-driven resource management rationale focused on sea-use regulation. This paper examines practices of Marine Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management at the German North Sea coast. The paper focuses in particular on the engagement of spatial planners with these practices and their perception of their role therein. We seek to understand what form spatial planning at the coast and at sea currently takes and how this might develop in the future in response to current and anticipated policy developments. We argue for the necessity of a communicative, cross-sectoral approach to spatial planning at sea, providing a spatial vision for the future that extends from the Exclusive Economic Zone to encompass both the coastal waters of the federal states and the land-sea interface in a substantive manner.
The “Joint Roadmap to Accelerate Marine Spatial Planning Processes Worldwide”, adopted by IOC-UNESCO and the European Commission (DG-MARE) in 2017, highlights the growing commitment of policy and decision-makers in developing transboundary collaboration relevant to Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) as a mechanism for promoting sustainable sea use. While collaboration across borders represents positive progress towards global environmental stewardship and international cooperation, transboundary MSP can present challenges and obstacles as it can be a complex process involving different parties and stakeholders across multiple levels of governance. In this article, we examine the different enabling factors and good practices that emerge from two different DG-MARE-funded knowledge exchange projects on transboundary MSP, whose findings led to the development of the Joint Roadmap: the Baltic SCOPE Project, and the Study on International Best Practices for Cross-Border MSP. Recognising that MSP processes are specific to their respective contexts, we aim to provide guidance and support towards the development of effective collaboration in future transboundary MSP initiatives by offering inspiration in the approaches and tools used elsewhere. We hope this will enable others to reflect on the benefits of adopting a strategic approach to transboundary collaboration designed to align marine plans across different jurisdictions.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) processes seek to better manage ocean spaces by balancing ecological, social and economic objectives using public and participatory processes. To meet this challenge, MSP approaches and tools have evolved globally, from local to national scales. At two International Marine Conservation Congresses (2016 and 2018), MSP practitioners and researchers from diverse geographic, technical and socio-economic contexts met to share advances in practical approaches and spatial tools to achieve multi-objective MSP. Here we share the lessons learned and commonalities that emerged from studies conducted in Belize, Canada, South Africa, Seychelles, the United Kingdom and the United States on a number of topics related to advancing MSP. We identify seven important themes that we believe are broadly relevant to any multi-objective MSP process: (1) indigenous and local knowledge should inform planning goals and objectives; (2) transparent and evidence-based approaches can reduce user conflict; (3) simple ecosystem service models and scenarios can facilitate multi-objective planning; (4) trade-off analyses can help balance diverse objectives; (5) ecosystem services may assist planning for high value-data poor Blue Economy sectors; (6) game theoretic decision rules can help to deliver fair, equitable and win–win spatial allocation solutions; and (7) strategic mapping products can facilitate decision making amongst stakeholders from different sectors. Some of these themes are evident in MSP processes that have been completed in the previous decade, but the fast-evolving field of MSP is addressing increasingly more complex objectives, and practitioners need to respond with practical approaches and spatial tools that can address this complexity.