Improved transdisciplinary science for effective ecosystem-based maritime spatial planning and conservation in European Seas (MarinePlan)
One of today’s most pressing challenges is to safeguard the loss of ecosystem biodiversity and functioning, while simultaneously allowing for their exploitation by those who depend on their services, goods and benefits. In Europe, Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is the main governance process to ideally integrate sustainability and exploitation. This requires tools and knowledge to align MSP and marine protected area (MPA) designation processes, which are lacking particularly regarding transboundary coordination and connectivity. Founded on a large amount of expertise and a solid theoretical basis, MarinePlan will co-develop with stakeholders a Decision Support System (DSS) for ecosystem-based maritime spatial planning (EB-MSP) together with best practice guidance to enhance the effectiveness of spatial conservation and restoration measures for marine biodiversity in European Seas. Tools will comprise operational criteria for ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSA), enabling the allocation of conservation and restoration areas at various scales in complex sea areas with multiple uses, while including the effects of climate change. The DSS will be developed and applied at eight European planning sites, from coastal ecosystems to open ocean and the deep sea and from local to trans-boundary scales. Applying and validating the DSS will incorporate realistic planning scenarios, key action points to achieve the EU Biodiversity Strategy, and policy recommendations how to enhance EB-MSP implementation in European Seas. MarinePlan will communicate results to decision-makers at horizontal (between sectors) and vertical (from local to European) levels and enable the transfer of knowledge to areas in differing socio-ecological settings. The improved natural and social science base will ensure effective policymaking to support a greater coherence in implementing environmental policies as well as to enable streamlined planning for marine industries.