The central part of the MESMA spatial management tool box is a generic and flexible framework which describes a best practice process of how to assess a given spatial management within a discrete marine area with clearly defined boundaries in space and time. Steps include context setting; information collation and mapping; selecting indicators and thresholds; risk analysis and state assessment; assessing findings against operational objectives; evaluate management effectiveness; and recommend adaptations to current management
Questions this practice may help answer
- Which steps do I need to take to evaluate the implementation of a Spatially Managed Areas (SMA), such as a Maritime Spatial Plan?
The MESMA project aims at developing strategies, guidelines, tools and a systematic framework to facilitate integrated monitoring, evaluation and implementation of Spatially Managed Areas (SMAs). Therefore, a central part of the project is to develop a MESMA spatial management toolbox. The toolbox should be a generic and flexible framework, which describes a best practice process of how to assess a given spatial management within a discrete marine area with clearly defined boundaries in space and time.
Aspects / Objectives
Creating an evaluation framework, which is applicable at any spatial scale independent from the natural and socioeconomic factors relevant in a certain area.
The authors analysed several Existing assessment strategies such as Integrated Environmental Assessment (IEA), MSP (Marine Spatial Planning) and Marine Protected areas (MPAs). This analysis suggested that the MESMA framework should comprise:
- The definition of key desired outcomes,
- Identification of management objectives
- Performance indicators and thresholds
- Monitoring and risk analysis,
- Assessment of findings in relation to objectives,
- Evaluation of current management and recommendations for adaptation.
Further to support the implementation of ecosystem-based management (EBM) the MESMA framework should consider explicitly interactions of ecosystem components and cumulative impacts of human activities.
Main Outputs / Results
The MESMA framework to evaluate and monitor SMAs comprises seven key steps and represents an iterative process.
- Definition of spatial and temporal boundaries to specify the contex
- In relation to those boundaries the high level goal
- Operational objectives will be defined
- The collation of existing information and mapping.
- The ecosystem components (natural and socio‐economic) relevant to the set of objectives will be defined and mapped for the SMA.
- The socio‐economic components (human activities) will be mapped and (cumulative) impacts of those on natural ecosystem components will be assessed
- List existing or proposed management measures
- The definition of indicators and related thresholds.
- State assessment of the indicators and/or a risk analysis of management scenarios.
- Evaluate the findings against the operational objectives.
- Evaluation of management effectiveness will be conducted
- Assessing results will be synthesised to formulate recommendations to adapt management
Throughout the assessment process stakeholder engagement is considered to be important which is directly linked to a detailed governance analysis of the SMA
The toolbox is applicable at any spatial scale independent from the natural and socioeconomic factors relevant in a certain area.
MESMA project partners
Costs / Funding Source
The practice was elaborated under the MESMA project co financed by European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007‐2013). Direct costs of its elaboration are unknown.
Dr. Vanessa Stelzenmüller
Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries