Published Tuesday, 07 February 2012

The Ecosystem Approach in Marine Management 

In 2008 the European Union adopted the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) with the aim of improving the environmental health of Europe’s regional seas by 2020. The policy set out strict deadlines and targets that EU Member States have to meet while applying an “ecosystem approach to marine management”. But until now, there has been no unambiguous definition of what that entails. A report resulting from the KnowSeas project seeks to remedy the situation.

The report, ’The Ecosystem Approach in Marine Management’, defines the ecosystem approach and puts it into context by describing the challenges of applying it across Europe’s seas. Moreover it explains the role of Marine Spatial Planning (a tool that brings together multiple users of the ocean to make informed and coordinated decisions about how to use marine resources sustainably), while stressing the importance of adaptive management (a flexible approach to cope with the scientific uncertainty of natural systems), and assessing the main challenges that marine managers are likely to face when trying to meet the goal of Good Environmental Status – the basis of the MSFD.