A safe ocean where people are protected from ocean hazards

ICES working groups on marine planning and coastal zone management and on resilience and marine ecosystem services are working towards a safe ocean.
Published: 7 January 2020

​​​​​​​Marine Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management are key to the delivery of ecosystem based marine management and help to achieve and balance environmental, societal, and blue growth goals. Appropriate planning and allocation of space to different sectors is critical to avoid conflicts, minimize impacts, and contribute to navigational safety. It provides a mechanism for adaptive management of future ocean usage to account for a changing environment. In short, a well planned ocean is a safer one.

Marine plans are at a critical stage across the ICES region, with European countries actively developing plans to comply with the European Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (by 2021), or with plans already implemented and undergoing revision. However there are a number of science and capacity gaps that ICES Working Group on Marine Planning and Coastal Zone Management (WGMPZM) has been addressing through its work in recent years.

This group has worked to develop state of the art tools, practices, and guidelines including the development of approaches to address conflicts, coexistence, and synergies between sectors in marine planning, a quality assurance framework, cumulative effects assessment methodologies, typologies for monitoring and evaluation of plans, and criteria and approaches to identify and incorporate culturally significant areas.

To encourage the best use of science, data, and information for evidence-based planning, the group has also reviewed the role of science in marine planning based on experiences across the ICES area, has reviewed data requirements, identified gaps and information resources (data portals) where these can be shared.

To help address capacity issues and enhance skills and knowledge transfer, the group has also developed a training course on Marine Planning available through ICES training programme and acted as the scientific steering committee for the development of the interactive game “MSP Challenge", a table game and virtual platform, which has been used in multiple projects and gatherings to teach the concepts and roles of marine and coastal planning to a wide variety of audiences and students.

Future challenges and topics that the group will address include planning for adaptation to climate change, social effects on coastal communities, as well as planning across the land–sea interface, international boundaries, and in areas beyond national jurisdiction in the deep sea.

ICES Working Group on Resilience and Marine Ecosystem Services (WGRMES) has developed an operationalizational conceptual framework to measure and monitor the resilience of marine ecosystem services by measuring resistance – a system's ability to actively change while retaining its identity or to passively withstand a decline in system performance following one or more adverse events, recovery time – a measure of the time it takes for a system to recover or to achieve a desired level of functionality or system performance following one or more adverse events, and robustness - the probability of a system to stay functional, maintain its identity and not cross an undesirable (and possibly irreversible) threshold following one or more adverse events (Grafton et al. 2019).

Considerable management efforts are made to reverse shifts and collapses, but most of these are expensive for policy-makers as they are reactive. WGRMES has developed, for the first time, the Social Transformation Dataset, a global, open, and public repository containing information about case studies from fisheries (industrial, small-scale, and recreational) and the aquaculture sectors and the ecosystem services they provide, illustrating fundamental and critical change of enabling conditions, values, institutions and practices of marine social-ecological systems to monitor the vulnerability of coastal communities from all around the world. The results of the Social Transformation Dataset help to catalyze transformative changes and facilitate the navigation towards social transformations (Villasante et al. 2017).

WGRMES can provide the Ocean Decade with scientific evidence on the state and performance of marine and coastal social-ecological systems before and/or after crossing critical tipping points, but also the social adaptation and transformation of marine social-ecological systems to minimize the impacts of multiple drivers (e.g. climate change) which ultimately lead to shifts and collapses. WGRMES provides key scientific evidence of high relevance for policy makers can use to monitor short and long-term trends of human communities over time.​​

Back to ICES Science Highlights: Addressing the six societal goals of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development​.​​​​​

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Addressing capacity for marine planning: Teaching the principles with the MSP serious challenge board game, IOC-UNESCO and DGMARE MSP worldwide conference 2017.

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A safe ocean where people are protected from ocean hazards

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