As part of my teaching at Leuphana University Lüneburg, I gave a seminar in Winter Semester 22/23 on ‘Spatial Planning in Practice’ with a particular focus on ecosystem-based marine spatial planning. The seminar formed part of the minor programme in Spatial Science. The interdisciplinary group of undergraduate students brought their own perspectives and skills to the complex task of preparing an ecosystem-based transboundary marine spatial plan for the Dogger Bank area of the North Sea. The students initially worked in small groups focussed on thematic issues of relevance to the case study area, including offshore wind, shipping, fishing, marine mammals and birds.
Students discussing planning options for the Dogger Bank, bringing together diverse stakeholder perspectives.
Mapping fishing grounds at the Dogger Bank
The groups identified objectives for their area of focus for both 2030 and 2060 as well as potential planning measures targeted at achieving those objectives. In a subsequent step, the students exchanged information between the groups and engaged in negotiation with the aim of achieving common objectives, balancing the expansion of offshore renewable energy with protection of the marine environment and against the background of existing uses of marine space.
On March 7th 2023, I facilitated and led an online stakeholder workshop on marine spatial planning on behalf of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly. Following the publication of Ireland’s National Marine Planning Framework and marine spatial planning legislation in 2021, the focus has shifted towards the subnational level. Regional Assemblies can, working together coastal local authorities, potentially play a key role in preparation and coordination of Designated Maritime Area Plans for nearshore areas.
Following an open tender process, I have been commissioned by the ASCOBANS Secretariat to develop guidelines for Cetacean-friendly marine spatial planning. ASCOBANS (Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas, entered into force 1994) is the key international agreement for the conservation of small cetaceans (harbour porpoises, dolphins, smaller whale species) in Northern and Western Europe. The ASCOBANS Secretariat is hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and located in Bonn. The development of guidelines for cetacean-friendly MSP contributes to the realisation of effective ecosystem-based management.
Following a successful tender application, I have been commissioned by BirdLife International to conduct an evaluation of national level Marine Spatial Plans (MSPs). Over the next few months, I will develop a methodology for the assessment of MSPs based on a screening of relevant EU environmental directives. This methodology will initially be applied to four countries located within the Baltic and North Sea Regions: Belgium, Germany, Lithuania and Sweden and subsequently made available to practitioners and stakeholders for the evaluation of MSPs across Europe.
I look forward to participating in this webinar on Maritime Spatial Planning on Wednesday 24th February: Maritime Spatial Planning Striking the balance: development and protection of our seas and oceans.