Marine spatial planning must consider healthy ecosystems on equal ground as economic interests.
Today, experts, industry and fisheries managers from around the EU are meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania to discuss how to best to manage the various activities in European marine waters. Oceana, a presenter at the event, argues that special attention must be given to the value of sensitive ecosystems, both from an economic and environmental perspective, in determining the distribution of marine activities.
“Healthy ecosystems must be at the core of all marine spatial planning and in line with the Marine Strategy Framework and the Habitats Directives”, says Hanna Paulomäki, Project Manager at Oceana’s Baltic Sea office.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) considers how to divide and distribute marine space between different interests like fishing, shipping, tourism and construction. The MSP approach is meant to take a holistic view in considering how economic interests, governance, recreation as well as marine and coastal ecosystems are affected by each other. For example, when building an offshore wind park, or planning a new shipping route, it is important to consider how these will affect marine life, on which the fishing industry relies, or tourism, on which coastal economies depend.
A staunch supporter of this approach, Oceana is however, concerned that short term economic interests might be favored at the expense of the environment, and that governance won’t be coordinated. In the Baltic Sea region for example, the complexities of management between nine countries, different authorities, the EU and other institutes, historically have hindered real progress.
“In order for marine special planning in the Baltic Sea to be successful, all stakeholders must be at the table, and ecosystem based management must be a precondition for all users of the sea”, says Magnus Eckeskog, Marine Policy Advisor at Oceana.