Today, marine areas receive a level of attention that has changed significantly from 10 years ago. Renewable and non-renewable energy, aquaculture and fishing, shipping, conservation, and recreation – the competition for marine space is constantly on the increase.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) brings together many users of the ocean so that they can make informed and coordinated decisions on how to use marine resources sustainably. At the same time, the process aims to prevent potential conflicts while promoting cooperation and possibilities for collaboration.
ICES Training Programme introduced the new course ‘Marine Spatial Planning, Processes and Tools’ in anticipation of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, adopted by the European Commission in July 2014, a directive which seeks to create a foundation for maritime spatial planning in European waters.
Highlighting the timeliness of this course, instructors Andreas Kannen (Chair of ICES Working Group on Marine Planning and Coastal Zone Management) and Roland Cormier (member of WGMPCZM) emphasize, "MSP is one of the big upcoming issues in the marine field. Every EU Member State with a coastline must have a marine spatial plan by 2021 according to the MSP Directive. While the majority of Member States have not yet started this process, the issue has been gathering a lot more momentum and activity since July."
The driving policy behind the new directive is blue growth. The renewable energy, mineral resources, aquaculture, tourism, and biotechnology sectors must be further developed alongside the established shipping, fisheries, and oil and gas exploitation industries.
At the same time as the MSP Directive with its focus on sea use has been introduced, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), an environmentally focused policy, is already underway and this creates some tensions.
"There is an overlap. The MSFD could be viewed as the ecosystem component of the MSP Directive. However, the MSFD also includes non-MSP elements needed to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES)," explains Kannen. "While the MSP Directive sets management policies for activities, the MSFD is then the ecosystem basis upon which we have to consider the temporal and spatial organization of all these activities in the marine environment. So, where and when should we do what? That is what we are still trying to figure out."
As members of WGMPCZM, the course instructors have developed a whole process to show how the two directives link together.
"WGMPCZM is quite different from typical ICES working groups,” notes Kannen. "We have a strong mix of people, both from government authorities and different fields of science, including social sciences. We focus on questions of processes: How do we do this type of planning? What criteria are needed? What kind of knowledge can be used? What experiences do we have from different countries?"
“Over the years the group has developed into a trans-disciplinary forum where scientists and practitioners meet and talk to each other, because they really represent two different worlds. A government authority responsible for regulation and a scientist will provide completely different perspectives on the same thing."
"WGMPCZM has recently published a handbook on marine and coastal ecosystem-based risk management (ICES CRR No. 317) and have an upcoming CRR on management for MSP which is about the entire planning process and forms the basis of this training course."
The weeklong course was all about policymaking, as MSP is a policy process.
The majority of participants were new to the field and included those that will be involved in establishing the MSP process for their country, as well those from a scientific background who are involved in analytical projects that provide support advice for MSP.
The instructors took participants from a policy environment, through the policy analysis process of MSP and back into the MSFD as the course is designed to bring the two directives together.
The instructors felt that for participants, especially those from the natural sciences, the challenge was to follow and understand the thinking involved in policy processes. "From day-to-day, to some degree we brought it back to those with a scientific background. Where does your input go the process? Where should it come from? What are likely impacts? Which questions should I ask if I need to do an impact assessment of a MSP?" adds Cormier.
Using examples of MSP processes from Germany, the Netherlands, England, and the Baltic, it was made clear that MSP as it is defined by the MSP Directive is not science-driven with ecological objectives but a policy-driven process with specific economic objectives, such as establishing wind farms, increasing shipping, and increasing aquaculture, all of which provide a framework for government authorities to operate within.
During the course, participants created stakeholder environments and worked on planning objectives to create a proposed MSP, using a series of objectives and industry targets that have been pre-established as part of the MSP Challenge game developed by the University of Delft.
"ICES MSP workshop was a great course for beginners or experts currently active in the MSP process – scientists, stakeholders, or representatives from a competent authority. As a representative from a competent authority, who has been active in the MSP process for a couple of years, I found plenty of motivation from the course. The knowledge given was not 100% new, but it certainly gave me a new perspective for process building or stakeholder involvement in the future. Most of all the course gave me great amount of inspiration for building up a national process for MSP that would take into account the full stakeholder perspective and also be scientifically sound."
(Anni Konsap, Estonian Planning Advisor)
"I found the course to be thoroughly engaging and a great introduction to the field of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP). As someone new to MSP, but working on the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), I found the course clearly outlined the linkages and the differences between the two directives. The course provides an excellent foundation into the processes, tools, and governance structures necessary to begin to implement MSP. I believe the course is particularly suitable to planners, managers, and people working in establishing governance structures to support MSP."
(Gareth McElhinney, Associate, RPS Group, Ireland)