Research outputs

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Main research question/goal
Does marine spatial planning exist, what is the quality of this spatial planning, to what extent does spatial planning differ between the European countries, and, most importantly, is there a harmonisation between the various users of the sea? Within the European MESMA project (Monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed marine areas, 2009-2013), the current marine spatial plans?—?if existing at all, whether or not on a sectorial basis?—?are monitored and evaluated by several European partners (including ILVO). The ultimate goal is to offer simple policy tools to streamline the spatial management of the marine environment in Europe at different scales. The integration of traditionally different scientific disciplines and the evaluation of several case studies at different geographical scales by means of transparent methods, should uncover the mistakes, weaknesses and strengths of the current (national) management.

Research approach
A comprehensive review is compiled for marine spatial planning and the appropriate tools, including an 'open' data system with information on marine habitats and species, economic values and benefits, and human activities and impacts. The main objective is to develop and test an integrated toolbox for the evaluation of marine spatial planning at the ecological, economical and political levels. This toolbox is applied to nine European sites to reveal general similarities and differences across Europe.


The pressure on the marine ecosystem is increasing. Through its recent legislation (e.g. Marine Strategy, Common Fisheries Policy), Europe promotes a good spatial management of the sea across the industry sectors. The ecosystem approach to fisheries, a growing demand for renewable energy, coastal protection, building materials and safe transport routes, and the need for marine protected areas all compete for the same valuable space. At the same time, the composition and functioning of marine ecosystems are changing due to climate change. Therefore, a robust spatial planning is necessary which accounts for developments across national borders. In the long term, this research should contribute both to a thriving maritime economy and the good status of the marine environment.

Funding provider(s)
European Union - FP7 - Cooperation

External partner(s)
Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche
Danmarks tekniske Universiteit
Fundacion AZTI
Hellenic Centre for Marine Research
Heriot-Watt University
Institute of Oceanology Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Johann Heinrich van Thuenen Institute
KBIN - Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen
Ministry For recources and Rudal Affairs
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek
Norsk Institutt for Vannforksking
Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesekkschaft
Stichting Deltares
The Secretary of Stae for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
University College Cork , National Universiti of Ireland, Cork
University College London
Effective start/end date1/11/0931/10/13

ID: 4158917