Proposals for ICZM-MSP for the marine area of Emilia Romagna Region - Italy


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The proposals for ICZM-MSP for the Emilia Romagna Region were formulated within the Italian National Project RITMARE. They are focused on marine and maritime research topics, according to the priorities of the EUSAIR Action Plan and in line with the implementation of the MSP Directive. The study area is the marine area in front of the coast of Emilia Romagna Region, in the north-western Adriatic Sea. The study activity was developed in two phases: (i) creation of a knowledge reference framework and its analysis to support maritime spatial planning and (ii) Identification and analysis of possible management objectives and measures to implement them. A set of 9 measures was proposed concerning 6 major uses of the marine space. An integrated “managed development” scenario which considers all the measures implemented at the same time was finally considered. This final scenario was re-analysed using tools for use conflict analysis and for cumulative impact analysis, already developed within previous projects and also previously used to characterise the study area (phase 1). This led to an assessment of possible overall reduction in use conflicts and in cumulative impacts deriving from the application of the proposed measures. The study concluded with the identification of next investigation needs, considering that suggested proposals should be considered as preliminary or as a valuable basis for further studies and discussions.

Sea Basin(s): 
Application in MSP: 
Taken into account in an MSP process
Nature protection
Offshore renewable energy production
Oil and gas exploitation
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Ecosystem-based approach
Environment aspects
Land-sea interactions
Type of practice: 
Pilot plan
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Water Framework Directive

Development/Implementation context

The proposals for ICZM-MSP for the Emilia Romagna Region were formulated within the Italian National Project RITMARE (2012-2017) and within the specific Research Line called "ICM-MSP in the Adriatic Ionian Region”. The project was structured around three key objectives:

(i) Support integrated policies for the safeguard of the environment (the health of the sea);

(ii) Enable sustainable use of resources (the sea as a system of production); and

(iii) Implement a strategy of prevention and mitigation of natural impacts (the sea as a risk factor).


Legal basis

The pilot plan is not legally binding. The measures suggested by the study are a concrete exercise of MSP for the study area and should be considered as preliminary or as a valuable basis for further studies and discussions.

Impact on planning and decision-making

The proposals for MSP include valuable, though preliminary suggestions which could flow in the Maritime Spatial Plan of the Adriatic maritime area facing Emilia-Romagna coast, to be developed accordingly the MSP Directive (2014/89/UE) and the related national legislation (D.Lgs 201/2016). Sectorial plans (e.g. aquaculture, coastal defence, erosion) at regional level could also benefit from results of the study.

Area covered

The proposals for ICZM-MSP refer to the marine area of the Northern Adriatic Sea located in front of Emilia Romagna Region (Italy).

Historic development

The proposals for ICZM-MSP for the Emilia Romagna Region were formulated within the Italian National Project RITMARE. The project ran between 2012 and 2017. The proposals were finalized in December 2017.

Objectives of the plan

The general objective was to carry out analyses, evaluations and proposals for MSP and ICZM for the coastal and marine area of Emilia Romagna region, through a concrete exercise of MSP on the area of interest. Specific objectives include:

  • Capitalizing on the results of previous projects (SHAPE and ADRIPLAN) and on the studies already performed in the area, using a pilot area for a concrete example of MSP implementation, in connection with ICZM;
  • Deepening the analysis on conflicts and synergies among sea and coastal uses already highlighted in the analysis produced within SHAPE and ADRIPLAN projects;
  • Analysing and addressing sectorial planning, sustaining its evolution in a more harmonious framework compared to the MSP mandates;
  • Supporting the implementation of the MSP Directive in Italy and its declination within EUSAIR;
  • Consolidating and updating the knowledge reference framework and the operational management tools to support decision processes.

The set of measures proposed in the study do not aim to introduce any radical change in the use of the marine space in front of the coast of Emilia Romagna region, but rather proposes a series of important innovations and optimisations in order to:

  • Allow the sustainable development of certain uses, i.e. promoting Blue Growth, solving existing problems and fostering opportunities that are not currently promoted, as well as safeguarding the existing uses;
  • Reduce conflicts and increase in particular synergies among uses;
  • Reduce environmental impacts, in particular in the area closer to the coast (0 to 6 nm), and increase the level of protection of relevant habitats and species.

Designated uses

The study was developed in two phases: (i) creation of a knowledge reference framework and its analysis to support maritime spatial planning and (ii) Identification and analysis of possible management objectives and measures to implement them.

Within the first phase, the study area was defined and the knowledge reference framework was updated. The analysis of use conflicts and cumulative impacts was performed, capitalizing on the results of previous projects (SHAPE and ADRIPLAN) and recent and expected time trends were analysed.

In the second phase of the study, these trends were used to define a “vision proposal” for the study area and to identify the main planning and management objectives for different sectors (tourism, energy, fisheries, aquaculture, coastal defence and military use). This vision is focused on coastal and maritime tourism (with connected supply chains) as the pivotal use of the maritime economy of the Emilia Romagna coastal system. The vision and its related actions should ensure that the coastal and marine space is not overload by excessive tourist activities and infrastructures and should let the other human uses grow without impacting the resources on which tourism depends.

A portfolio of nine sectorial measures, finally integrated in the so-called “managed development” scenario, was proposed accordingly to the vision and the objectives previously defined. Even if the proposed measures could be implemented independently and reflect specific sectorial needs, they were developed considering mutual connection and explicit elements of synergy, consistently with a general planning and non-sectorial vision.

The nine measures relate to:

  • Coastal defence against flooding and contrast to coastal erosion (measure 1 and measure 2);
  • Decommissioning of gas platform at the end of their productive life and possible re-use of them (measure 3);
  • Identification of suitable areas and possible solutions to promote the development of renewable energy at sea (measure 4)
  • Regulation of artisanal and trawling fishery towards a better sustainability of the fishery sector (measure 5 and 6);
  • Selection of areas suitable for aquaculture expansion (measure 7);
  • Extension of the marine protected network in synergy with other existing nature protection constraints (measure 8);
  • Reduction of surfaces subjected to military constraint reducing conflicts with other existing or proposed uses (measure 9).

The integrated “managed development scenario” which considers the implementation at the same time of all 9 measures, was finally re-analysed using the tools and conceptual models already used in the knowledge framework to characterise the study area. These tools (Conflict score tool, based on FP7 project COEXIST methodology and Cumulative Impacts tool) were initially developed within the ADRIPLAN Project and then updated and improved within the RITMARE Project.

The figure below illustrates the difference between the integrated “managed development” scenario and the current state of uses in terms of use conflict and cumulative impacts. Over the whole study area a reduction of 39% of conflict due to concomitance of uses was estimated in the “management development” scenario, with major reduction in the areas located within 6 nm. It follows an overall reduction of environmental impact especially in the same area, subjected to limitation of trawling fisheries.

Public participation

The study was carried out in strong collaboration with the Emilia Romagna Region (Land and Environmental Department), as part of an Institutional Collaboration Agreement for study and research activities aimed to plan and manage of the coastal zone of the Emilia-Romagna Region and its marine waters (Regional decision DG 2274/2016).

Several other departments of Emilia Romagna Region and the Regional Environmental Protection Agency (ARPAE) were actively involved in this study, participating in two workshops and several discussion meetings.

The Environmental, Informatics and Statistics Department (DAIS) of the Venice Ca’ Foscari University also contributed to the development of this activity, concerning in particular the development of proposals in the aquaculture sector.

The overall stakeholder engagement supported both the phase of analysis of the knowledge framework and the phase of proposal development.


National (Italian) Research Programmes funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research. overall project budget amount to 250 million euros, co-funded by public and private resources. Direct costs of the practice elaboration are unknown.

Contact Person

Andrea Barbanti

National Research Council - Institute of Marine Sciences (CNR-ISMAR)