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.
In accordance with the EU MSP directive all EU coastal member states were required to produce marine spatial plans by 2021. Not all have met this deadline but many are now published and adopted by national governments. A key requirement of the MSP directive is that marine spatial plans follow an ecosystem-based approach and contribute to the achievement of Good Environmental Status for marine ecosystems, as set out in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Over the last nine months or so, I have been engaged in the evaluation of selected national-level marine spatial plans, with a view to assessing their degree of alignment with EU environmental legislation and policy objectives. This work has been commissioned by environmental NGOs: Birdlife International and the Irish umbrella NGO Sustainable Water Network (SWAN). In the following, I provide an overview of this work with links to the published reports.