Demand for renewable energy is increasing steadily and regulated by national and international policies. Offshore wind energy sector has been clearly the fastest in its development among other options, and development of new wind farms requires large ocean space. Therefore, there is a need of efficient spatial planning process, including the site selection constrained by technical (wind resource, coastal distance, seafloor) and environmental (impacts) factors and competence of uses. We present a novel approach, using Bayesian Belief Networks (BBN), for an integrated spatially explicit site feasibility identification for offshore wind farms. Our objectives are to: (i) develop a spatially explicit model that integrates the technical, economic, environmental and social dimensions; (ii) operationalize the BBN model; (iii) implement the model at local (Basque Country) and regional (North East Atlantic and Western Mediterranean), and (iv) develop and analyse future scenarios for wind farm installation in a local case study. Results demonstrated a total of 1% (23 km2) of moderate feasibility areas in local scaled analysis, compared to 4% of (21,600 km2) very high, and 5% (30,000 km2) of high feasibility in larger scale analysis. The main challenges were data availability and discretization when trying to expand the model from local to regional level. The use of BBN models to determine the feasibility of offshore wind farm areas has been demonstrated adequate and possible, both at local and regional scales, allowing managers to take management decisions regarding marine spatial planning when including different activities, environmental problems and technological constraints.
Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
The European Union has a legally-binding framework for the establishment of maritime spatial plans in the sea areas covered by the exclusive economic zones of its Member States by 2021. The European Commission is supporting EU Member States in their planning efforts with concrete tools and financing. The European Union is well positioned to use its experience and expertise in promoting international and transboundary maritime spatial planning to help address global and regional governance gaps and challenges in ocean management, thereby contributing to improved international ocean governance. In this paper, the European Commission's Bernhard Friess and Marie Grémaud-Colombier explain the EU's legal framework for maritime spatial planning, and elaborate on how the Commission supports EU Member States in the preparation of their maritime spatial plans and the establishment of lasting mechanisms for cross-border cooperation. They set out how the EU's MSP experience led to intensification of its work on international MSP, including with the adoption of the joint DG MARE – IOC-UNESCO Roadmap on International MSP which sets out a clear forward looking and global perspective towards implementing the Agenda 2030.
An inventory of the marine fish fauna in the extreme northeast of South America was performed, as well as biomass estimates, species richness and environmental variables were collected. Techniques of spatial statistics were used to identify biomass trends and species richness. The main objectives were to generate new information about the specific composition of the fish fauna, allowing the identification of the spatial and temporal distribution of fishing resources, as well as the influence of environmental variables on habitat use, generating information that contributes to establishing measures of management and conservation of the fishing resources of the region. Bottom trawls were conducted on the northern coast of the continental shelf of Rio Grande do Norte (Northeast of Brazil), between May 2002 and November 2004. A total of 20,895 fishes (806.5 kg) distributed within 153 species, 108 genera and 57 families were caught. The number of species identified by trawls ranged from 1 to 46. For species richness, the season of the year, depth, latitude, longitude and distance from the coast were statistically significant. Fish biomass presented values between 0.76 and 6,132 g/km, with highest values occurring between depths of 45 and 65 m during the rainy season, while in dry period higher biomass was found in depths from 35 to 75 m. According to the GLM, season of the year and depth influence the distribution of biomass. Thus, in general terms both models indicated that environmental variables directly influence the occurrence and distribution of the ichthyofauna of the continental shelf of Rio Grande do Norte and therefore should be prioritized in establishing measures for conservation and management of these important resources.
The production of marine habitat maps typically relies on the use of habitat classification schemes (HCSs). The choice of which HCS to use for a mapping study is often related to familiarity, established practice, and national desires. Despite a superficial similarity, HCSs differ greatly across six key properties, namely, purpose, environmental and ecological scope, spatial scale, thematic resolution, structure, and compatibility with mapping techniques. These properties impart specific strengths and weaknesses for each HCS, which are subsequently transferred to the habitat maps applying these schemes. This review has examined seven HCSs (that are commonly used and widely adopted for national and international mapping programmes), over the six properties, to understand their influence on marine habitat mapping. In addition, variation in how mappers interpret and apply HCSs introduces additional uncertainties and biases into the final maps. Recommendations are provided for improving HCSs for marine habitat mapping as well as for enhancing the working practices of mappers using habitat classification. It is hoped that implementation of these recommendations will lead to greater certainty and usage within mapping studies and more consistency between studies and adjoining maps.
The territorial waters and the EEZ of the Netherlands form a part of the southern North Sea. The area is intensely used and for several of these uses considerable growth is forecast. For years, industrial freedom and market forces prevailed during discussions on marine spatial planning in the Netherlands. But in 2005 it became clear that this might lead to increasing conflicts with the environment and between users. The introduction of a new spatial planning framework was in response to an increasing interest in new developments and a growing demand for governmental coordination of these developments. During the years after, societal demands changed rapidly, especially with regard to renewable energy and demand for sand to strengthen the coast. At a regular interval of 6 years, revised Marine Spatial Plans have been developed which are adapted to the new knowledge and experience acquired and the new societal demands. Each cycle has a strong stakeholder involvement, both informal and formal.
Over the past decade, marine/maritime spatial planning (MSP) has matured from a concept to a practical approach in advancing sustainable development and management of marine space . However, MSP still remains a relatively novel and complex process which involves various disciplines, procedures and engagement with multiple interests within differing governance arrangements and legal settings at different spatial scales in a dynamic system. MSP, therefore, requires marine planning practitioners and their institutions to be adequately equipped to address all of these and emerging challenges. Europe has invested in capacity building for MSP over the years with the adoption of the MSP Directive  being the main driver for implementation in some Member States alongside those where MSP had already been initiated. This paper provides an overview of experience, practical challenges, and lessons learnt from capacity building initiatives to do with education and training courses, establishing a national planning body, and cross-border projects, mainly from Europe. The paper broadly considers the skills, training and knowledge required for the MSP process. It stresses the importance of developing capacity at all levels, prioritising resources for capacity building and ensuring effective partnerships between the different actors and institutions. Finally, recommendations, potential next steps and priorities are suggested for furthering MSP capacity building.
The assessment and mapping of ecosystem services (ES) has become an increasingly important instrument for environmental management and conservation priority-setting. As such, this practice can be used in ecosystem-based Marine Spatial Planning (MSP). MSP is recognized as an opportunity to achieve socio-economic and ecological goals simultaneously, to suggest solutions for sustainable management of marine environment and its resources. In this study, we propose an operational approach that includes novel spatial analysis in the marine field to quantify and map supporting ecosystem services. Such approach spans the 3D-dimension of the marine environment, considering all marine domains (sea surface, water column, seabed) separately. Our approach is focused on mapping supporting ES of the Adriatic Sea, to grant their preservation in order to guarantee the delivery of all other ES. Supporting ES provision in the Adriatic was quantified through the use of indicators that denote ES delivery and that are specifically related to the three marine domains. We identified areas of elevated provisioning levels of multiple supporting ES in the Adriatic, which is hypothesized to be priority areas of conservation. Our results confirm the importance of explicitly including the pelagic domain in planning and conservation processes. Areas that provide the lowest levels of supporting ES delivery were also mapped, to indicate possible ‘sacrificial areas’ for industrial or intensive use. The spatial coincidence of the determined hotspots areas of ES delivery associated with particular marine areas that are and are not under conservation regimes was analysed. This approach led us to test the applicability of the method for identifying marine areas for conservation purposes. Our methodological approach aims at producing relevant scientific knowledge for prioritizing marine conservation and sustainable management actions, to be used in MSP and marine management.
Marine resource management is shifting from optimizing single species yield to redefining sustainable fisheries within the context of managing ocean use and ecosystem health. In this introductory article to the theme set, “Plugging spatial ecology into ecosystem-based management (EBM)” we conduct an informal horizon scan with leaders in EBM research to identify three rapidly evolving areas that will be game changers in integrating spatial ecology into EBM. These are: (1) new data streams from fishers, genomics, and technological advances in remote sensing and bio-logging; (2) increased analytical power through “Big Data” and artificial intelligence; and (3) better integration of social dimensions into management. We address each of these areas by first imagining capacity in 20 years from now, and then highlighting emerging efforts to get us there, drawing on articles in this theme set, other scientific literature, and presentations/discussions from the symposium on “Linkages between spatial ecology and sustainable fisheries” held at the ICES Annual Science Conference in September 2017.
Over the last 20 years, marine/maritime spatial planning (MSP)1 has gained a strong political presence in Europe and elsewhere. Before 2006, only a hand- ful of countries had begun to spatially plan sea areas, such as China, where marine functional zoning was first proposed by government in 1998. In Europe, efforts began in 2002 as part of the EU-funded BaltCoast project involving Germany, Sweden, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Denmark and Finland. Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands then became forerunners of MSP in Europe, approving integrated management plans for their waters in 2005. By 2017, the number of countries with MSP initiatives of some type had grown to about 60, the majority of which are in Europe but also some in Central America, Africa and Asia (Ehler 2017; Santos et al. 2019).2
The objective of this study is to analyse, from a legal point of view, the influence of the transposition of Marine Spatial Planning Directive into both Spanish and Portuguese domestic laws on the development of marine renewable energies in both countries. This article concludes that the Portuguese legal system is more favourable for the development of marine renewable energies than the Spanish legal regime, since the former establishes a more flexible planning system, sets criteria for the prioritisation of marine uses, incorporates trade-off mechanisms, introduces an electronic single-window system and regulates a pilot zone. These measures can help streamline licensing processes, avoid and resolve conflicts with other sea users, and adapt planning instruments to the rapid development of new marine renewable technologies. However, both legal regimes lack specific legal mechanisms aimed at offering effective protection of the marine environment against negative effects arising from the installation of such devices. Similarly, there is a lack of coordination between maritime spatial planning instruments and land planning instruments, and between the Central Government and the autonomous regions. This may hinder the installation of marine renewable energies. This study has implications in relation to the EU integrated marine policy aimed at achieving a balance between blue growth and the conservation of the marine environment, as well as an inter-administrative coordination improvement in decision-making.