Monitoring and Evaluation of Spatially Managed Areas


Completed: November 2009 - October 2013

The seas around Europe are home to an exceptionally wide range of marine habitats which must also support a variety of marine industries. ‘Multiple use’ can cause problems between various user groups, between economic interests and conservation requirements, and there is also a greater potential for degradation of the marine ecosystems themselves. This all increases future challenges for marine environmental managers
The increasing pressures upon the European seas and coastal areas call for a well planned approach for their continued spatial development. The challenge for marine spatial management is to find an optimal balance between the competing demands of economic use, ecological development, and nature conservation while at the same time maintaining a sensitivity towards traditional practices.
Marine spatial management is place‐ or area‐based and can provide a practical approach to long‐term ecosystem‐based management. The planning efforts should be comprehensive, adaptive, and participatory, and resolve conflicts among the relevant multiple users and the ecosystem. This can only be done via a sound scientific knowledge base pertaining to the ecology and resilience of species and marine habitats, the impacts of human activity and the variability in time and space of ecological, natural and historical values.
The major challenge is to combine an optimized economic use of the European seas and coastal areas, with a sustained marine ecosystem of high quality.

The MESMA project focuses on marine spatial planning and aims to produce integrated management tools (concepts, models and guidelines) for monitoring, evaluation and implementation of Spatially Managed Areas (SMAs). The project results will support integrated management plans for designated or proposed sites with assessment methods based on European collaboration.

The main tasks in the project are information analysis, the development of a generic framework, the testing and evaluation of this framework through case‐studies and the development of a toolbox. A significant proportion of the effort will be centred on the case studies within five geographical regions: the North Sea, Baltic, Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Black Sea. This approach makes it possible to compare pressures on an inter‐regional level (e.g. Offshore wind farms in the North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic), or a multi‐pressure level for a specific region (e.g. SMA in Fishing, Wind‐energy, Geo‐hazards and Tourism in the Black Sea).

The project contributes to the design and implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, the Thematic Strategy for Marine Protection and the recently endorsed Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The Directive aims to achieve good environmental status of the EU's marine waters by 2021 and to protect the resource base upon which marine‐related economic and social activities depend.
MESMA will provide a firm basis for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Directive and related policies.