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.
Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
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.
The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) Convention includes specific provisions to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs). The SPRFMO Commission has determined that the interim measures put in place to protect VMEs should be replaced by an improved system of fishable and closed areas. We used the conservation planning tool Zonation to examine the utility of a decision-support tool to develop spatial management options that balance the protection of VMEs with utilisation of high value areas for fishing. Input data included: habitat suitability maps for VME indicator taxa, and uncertainties associated with these model predictions, for an area of the high seas around New Zealand; naturalness condition, represented by two proxy variables using New Zealand trawl effort data; and value to the New Zealand fishery using trawl catch data for two gear types and three time-periods. Running scenario analyses with these data allowed for an understanding of the effect of varying the input data on the spatial prioritisation of areas for VME conservation. The analyses also allowed for the cost to fishing to be determined, in terms of the amount of the trawl catch footprint (normalised to the catch) lost if high priority areas for VME indicator taxa are protected. In most scenarios, the cost to fishing was low given the relatively high proportion of suitable habitat for VME indicator taxa that could be protected. The main outcome of the present study is a demonstration of the practical utility of using available data, including modelled data, and the Zonation decision-support tool to develop future options for the spatial management of the SPRFMO area. Suggestions are also made for improvements in input data for future analyses.
We are currently in what might be termed a “third phase” of ocean enclosures around the world. This phase has involved an unprecedented intensity of map-making that supports an emerging regime of ocean governance where resources are geocoded, multiple and disparate marine uses are weighed against each other, spatial tradeoffs are made, and exclusive rights to spaces and resources are established. The discourse and practice of marine spatial planning inform the contours of this emerging regime. This paper examines the infrastructure of marine spatial planning via two ocean data portals recently created to support marine spatial planning on the East Coast of the United States. Applying theories of ontological politics, critical cartography, and a critical conceptualization of “care,” we examine portal performances in order to link their organization and imaging practices with the ideological and ontological work these infrastructures do, particularly in relation to environmental and human community actors. We further examine how ocean ontologies may be made durable through portal use and repetition, but also how such performances can “slip,” thereby creating openings for enacting marine spatial planning differently. Our analysis reveals how portal infrastructures assemble, edit, and visualize data, and how it matters to the success of particular performances of marine spatial planning.
Human use of marine and coastal areas is increasing worldwide, resulting in conflicts between different interests for marine space, overexploitation of marine resources, and environmental degradation. In this study we developed a methodology that combines assessments of marine environmental vulnerability and cumulative human pressures to support the processes of ecosystem-based adaptive maritime spatial planning. The methodology is built on the spatially explicit marine environmental vulnerability profile (EVP) that is an aggregated product of the distribution of essential nature values (habitat-forming benthic macroalgal and invertebrate species, benthic species richness, birds and seals as top marine predators) and their sensitivities to disturbances. The marine environmental cumulative risk profile (ERP) combines the EVP and the HELCOM Baltic Sea Pressure Index (BSPI), the latter representing the spatial distribution of intensities of cumulative anthropogenic pressures. The ERP identifies areas where environmental risks are the highest due to both long recoveries of the biota and high intensities of human pressures. This methodology can be used in any other sea areas by modifying the list of nature values, their sensitivity to disturbances, and the intensities of human pressure.