Synthesis Report on the Ecosystem Approach to Maritime Spatial Planning

Abstract: 

The report integrates the concepts of the ecosystem approach and Maritime Spatial Planning, as well as the relationship between them with a focus on the Baltic Sea context. The report incorporates information from the scientific literature, selected reports and pertinent guidance documents. It aims to analyse the consistency between the identified perspectives and recommendations and the manner in which the ecosystem approach is characterised, and its operation, in the HELCOM-VASAB Guidelines for the implementation of the ecosystem-based approach in Maritime Spatial Planning in the Baltic Sea. 

Sea Basin(s): 
Year: 
2019
Application in MSP: 
Taken into account in an MSP process
Sectors: 
Nature protection
Type of Issue: 
Ecosystem-based approach
Type of practice: 
Study
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Stocktake
Analyse spatial aspects
Develop and implement plan
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Yes
Coherence with other processes: 
Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

QUESTIONS THIS PRACTICE MAY HELP ANSWER: 

  • How is an ecosystem-based approach implemented in the MSP process? 

IMPLEMENTATION CONTEXT: 

The synthesis is developed in the context of the Pan Baltic Scope project. 

ASPECTS / OBJECTIVES: 

The activity is anticipated to contribute to the coherent implementation of the ecosystem-based approach (EBA) in the national MSP process in the Baltic Sea Region. The aim is to share experiences regarding the practical implementation of EBA in partner countries (including implementation of the SEA-framework), and to test the HELCOM-VASAB Guidelines and the tools for the implementation of EBA in MSP. 

METHOD: 

The first part of the search was conducted using the key words related to the ecosystem approach and maritime spatial planning. Relevant documentation was selected and  the materials retrieved were analysed. The main criterion for including the chosen sources in the synthesis was their relevance to the application of the ecosystem approach in the MSP, although not exclusively in the Baltic Sea context. The aim of this selection was to have a large enough sample to be representative. Once the first conclusions and recommendations were produced, the results were compared to the content in the HELCOM-VASAB Guidelines. 

MAIN OUTPUTS / RESULTS: 

The first part of the synthesis provides a review of the scientific literature, relevant reports and guidance documents. This is followed by a presentation of the HELCOM-VASAB Guidelines for the implementation of the ecosystem-based approach in the MSP as well as the Malawi principles for the Ecosystem Approach. Finally, the Guidelines and the Malawi principles are compared with the study, and conclusions and recommendations  for the improvement of the Guidelines are provided.  

Detailed recommendations and criticisms were made concerning:  

  • Best available knowledge and practice
  • Precaution (i.e. more reflective and systematic handling of uncertainty)
  • Alternative development 
  • Identification of ecosystem services 
  • Mitigation of negative environmental effects 
  • Relational understanding
  • More guidance on participation and communication  
  • Subsidiarity and coherence
  • Adaptation to changes 

While the Guidelines are well aligned with the Malawi principles, the information provided to users interested in the ecosystem-based approach for the MSP is limited. 

TRANSFERABILITY: 

The study was conducted for the Baltic Sea, but the information and applied research methodology could be useful for other regions.

RESPONSIBLE ENTITY: 

Pan Baltic Scope Project 

FUNDING SOURCE: 

This synthesis report was developed within the context of the Pan Baltic Scope project which is funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). 

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