Assessing the environmental credentials of marine spatial plans in Europe

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.

Source: (C) Birdlife International
Continue reading “Assessing the environmental credentials of marine spatial plans in Europe”

More than Lines on a Map? Towards Regional Governance for Irish Marine Space

Last month, I spoke at the Conference of Irish Geographers about the current developments and future challenges in marine protected area (MPA) management and maritime spatial planning (MSP) in the Irish context. In this commentary, I further develop some of the key arguments and proposals from that presentation.

As an island nation, Ireland is surrounded by the sea and has an extensive maritime territory (Figure 1 below). Nevertheless, the sea has often occupied a peripheral position in the national consciousness and politics. There is a prevailing sense that successive Irish governments have ‘turned their backs on the sea’, neglecting this rich resource (e.g. Tom MacSweeney 2008, Kevin O’ Sullivan 2019). Currently, however, Ireland’s marine territory is subject to significant policy attention, indicating perhaps, the beginning of a new relationship between the land and the sea. Irish marine governance is evolving rapidly with the adoption of a National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF), the preparation of a Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, and ambitious targets for the large-scale expansion of Ireland’s MPA network, in line with international commitments. Yet, blind spots and a sense of disjointed policy-making continues with, for example, the lack of marine biodiversity characterization or sensitivity mapping to support the preparation of NMPF. Indeed, by all accounts (the final NMPF will not be made public until June 17th), the NMPF does not provide a map of spatial strategy or an indication of priority areas for specific uses and activities at sea. In this sense, it is very much a policy framework rather than a spatial plan and barely meets the requirements set out under EU MSP Directive. This apparent lack of willingness to provide strategic policy direction in relation to the spatial distribution of activities and priority areas for ecosystem protection at sea is disappointing. As pressures for the development of marine space increase, there is a real risk of a reactive, development-led regime emerging by default. 

Figure 1: Ireland’s maritime territory (continental shelf). Source: Marine Institute.

Continue reading “More than Lines on a Map? Towards Regional Governance for Irish Marine Space”

Conference Session: New Geographies of Responsibility? Critical Perspectives on Coastal and Marine Governance

At the forthcoming Conference of Irish Geographers (May 18th-21st, online), I will convene a themed session with Danial Tubridy (UCD Planning) and Liam Carr (NUI Galway Geography) focussed on exploring and developing critical perspectives on coastal and marine governance and their associated geographies.

The final deadline for abstract submissions is 30th April (via the conference website). Read on for further details!

Omey Island, Co. Galway, summer 2019
Continue reading “Conference Session: New Geographies of Responsibility? Critical Perspectives on Coastal and Marine Governance”

Maritime Spatial Planning Webinar, 24th February

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.

The discussion will be hosted by MEP for Ireland South, Grace O’Sullivan and will feature a discussion of the study on Best Practice in Maritime Spatial Planning I was commissioned to write.

To register for the event please click here: https://lnkd.in/dKeuR2p
Or watch on Facebook live: https://lnkd.in/dupijii

Best Practices in Maritime Spatial Planning policy report launched

Over the past few months I have worked on the study: ” Best Practice in Maritime Spatial Planning: Towards Mutually Beneficial Outcomes for Fishers, Renewable Energy Production and Marine Conservation” commissioned by Grace O’ Sullivan MEP on behalf of the Greens in the European Parliament. 
The study has been published today (5.2.2021) and is available to download here. See also an opinion piece by Grace O’ Sullivan MEP on the launch of the study. A webinar will take place later this month (24. Feb) where the report will be discussed with industry and NGO representatives (details tbc). 

Continue reading “Best Practices in Maritime Spatial Planning policy report launched”
%d bloggers like this: