A Decision Support Tool for Maritime Spatial Planning and Mediterranean MPAs

On Friday 11th June, the second webinar of the Working Group 2 on “Sustainable use of natural resource” took place, to nourish the debate within the Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Community and specifically to present concrete technical tools to tackle the contemporary challenges of Maritime Spatial Planning, with a  focus on developing  Maritime Protected Areas (MPAs) while boosting for a Blue Economy.  

The workshop was introduced by Lise Guennal, Senior Project Officer at the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions, and moderated by Luca Santarossa, consultant for the MPBC Working Group 2.

After a short presentation of the Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Community and its two main outputs - the  MBPC declaration for an ecosystem-based approach and the Knowledge Platform on Biodiversity protection and management in the Mediterranean - a focus on Working Group n.2 and its participating projects allowed to introduce the newly updated WG2 Technical Paper. The main objective of the WG2 is the promotion of a participatory approach to natural resources, and the paper focuses particularly on the co-management of small-scale fisheries, providing some best practices identified by the projects. In particular, the co-management model elaborated by the Generalitat de Catalunya plays a flagship role among such practices, operating at the most appropriate and relevant fishery level and geographical scale.

This introduction was followed by the intervention of Mauro Randone, WWF Mediterranean, as partner of the PHAROS4MPAs project. He firstly gave an insight on Mediterranean Blue Economy, throughout an info graphic showing the progressive growth of all sectors and particularly for maritime transport and tourism. Then, he addressed the environmental impacts of such growth, as it is showed by the app ACCOBAMS, which also encompasses climate change effects. These transformations in the Mediterranean Sea should currently be tackled by more and more ambitious targets for conservation, as witnessed by the need to raise up to 30% the percentage of protected areas.

PHAROS4MPAs is a capitalization project which aim at observing and advising the interactions between the Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas and 8 Blue Economy maritime activities, providing an advisory committee for each sector. The indications in order to strengthen MPAs management effectiveness mainly target three groups: Mediterranean MPAs managers; planning authorities, and maritime business sectors.

Among the results obtained by PHAROS4MPAs, the project could directly engage over 187 relevant stakeholders in the Mediterranean, the MPAs managing authorities of 7 countries, the MSP authorities of 6 countries as well as the Slovenian National Agency of Territory Planning.

The second panelist was Giulio Farella from the CNR ISMAR, located in Venice, Italy, and also among the PHAROS4MPAs project partners. His intervention presented the PHAROS4MPAs outcomes in depth, arguing the decision to work on a Decision Support Tool (DST), with the objective of implementing an ecosystem-based approach into MSP. The DST helps in the analysis of cumulative effects of human activities within a basin and helps the operationalization of the recommendations provided.

You can find the PHAROS4MPAs Decision Support Tool HERE

The last intervention was outlined by Olivier Laroussinie, from the CEREMA, France. He discussed a critical insight of the aforementioned tool, by presenting its strengths and its aspects to be improved. He particularly appreciated the quality of the documents provided by PHAROS4MPAs, pointing out the broad view of the issues, the clarity of the answers, and the relevance of the recommendations and of the good practices examples. He encouraged to address other aspects such as the conflicting areas, and to stop thinking that everyone should agree on the measures to be taken. As for the PHAROS4MPAs Decision Support Tool, he highlighted its handiness and attractiveness, but suggested to improve the geolocation in the system and to give more background information.

As a final part, the workshop’s third part collected some feedbacks from the audience. A question on how to tackle the gap between Northern and Southern Mediterranean shores on MPAs and MSP related matters led to introduce the transboundary issue, in terms of need to merge the policies at a transnational level to be really effective; and, also, to mention of the MSPglobal project led by IOC-UNESCO, which appears to be very comprehensive.

A specific focus was then raised up during the discussion concerning the Pelagos Sanctuary specificities. Some recommendations concerning the risks related to shipping collisions and to emissions were pointed out. The Pelagos Secretariat encouraged the speakers to join a working group which will be created in this respect by the end of the year, in order to make the recommendations more operational. This topic also led to the problem of different approaches between different sectors of the blue economy, as Pelagos is a relevant example in this respect.

An exciting and deep discussion, to be continued in the next webinar in September, which will deal with two other projects – TUNEUP and POSBEMED2 – and will be focused on formal commitment engaging public and private stakeholders. We also encourage you to follow the online course on ecosystem-based approach, as well as the workshop on transboundary governance mechanism on the conservation of the Adriatic-Ionian ecosystem which will take place on 13 and 14 July 2021.

You can find below the agenda and the visual report with key messages.