Outcomes of the 2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016

Baltic SCOPE unites national authorities around the Baltic Sea responsible for maritime spatial planning, and is supported by four research and regional organisations.

The project is now in its concluding phase – a phase that has been facilitated by the 2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016, where the first findings of the two year collaboration were presented.

You can find the results of Baltic SCOPE on the project website from March onwards. The outcomes of the 2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016 are already available on the website.

More information

Baltic SCOPE

2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016

International ocean governance: an agenda for the future of our oceans

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On 10 November 2016, the European Commission and the EU’s High Representative set out a joint agenda for the future of our oceans, proposing 50 actions for safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans in Europe and around the world.

A new agenda for the oceans

The Joint Communication on international ocean governance builds on a widely shared understanding that the ocean governance framework needs to be strengthened, that pressures on the oceans need to be reduced and that the world’s oceans must be used sustainably. It also stresses that a better understanding about the oceans is necessary to achieve these objectives.

The Joint Communication proposes ways the EU can step up and play a stronger role at global and regional level in shaping the way oceans are managed and used. It sets out detailed actions to shape international governance in three priority areas:

  1. Improving the international ocean governance framework;
  2. Reducing human pressures on the oceans and creating the conditions for a sustainable blue economy;
  3. Strengthening international ocean research and data.

The Joint Communication is an integral part of the EU’s response to theUnited Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14 ‘to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’. It is based on the political mandate given to Commissioner Vella by President Juncker ‘to engage in shaping international ocean governance in the UN, in other multilateral fora and bilaterally with key global partners’.

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EU Joint Communication on “International ocean governance: an agenda for the future of our oceans.”

By Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Governance, EUCC

European Commission recently adopted a landmark political document: a Joint Communication on “International ocean governance: an agenda for the future of our oceans.”  This is a joint initiative by Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission in charge of External Relations, and Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Fisheries, and the Environment – in association with Jyrkki Katainen, Vice-President of the Commission in charge of Growth and Jobs.
 
This Communication is the first EU-level initiative that addresses the way in which the world’s oceans are managed and governed.  It focuses on what the EU can do to ensure oceans that are safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed and includes a list of 50 actions at EU and international level. The hope is that it will give impetus to stronger, more coherent and more effective ocean management at the global scale.  The Communication builds on a long and intense consultation process with stakeholder in the European Union and around the world, including the Coastal and Marine Union (EUCC) who provided comments.
 
The Joint Communication is an integral part of the EU’s response to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14 ‘to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’. The Joint Communication sets out 14 sets of actions in 3 priority areas: 1) Improving the international ocean governance framework; 2) Reducing human pressure on the oceans and creating the conditions for a sustainable blue economy3) Strengthening international ocean research and data. More detail is found in the Communication for each area.
1. Improving international ocean governance framework: Existing ocean rules need to be further developed and better enforced, for example to address areas beyond national jurisdiction or implement internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, such as creating the 10% target for Marine Protected Areas by 2020. The EU will cooperate with international partners to ensure implementation and will host in October 2017 the “Our Oceans” conference to build on these commitments. By 2018 the Commission will also produce guidance on the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in areas under national jurisdiction.
On the basis of its Maritime Security Strategy, the European Union will work with partner countries to reduce maritime security threats and risks, such as piracy, trafficking in human beings, arms and narcotics, while taking full advantage of the capacity of the new European Border and Coastguard Agency, the EU Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA). Moreover,the EU is strongly engaged with its Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. EUNAVFOR Atalanta is active in countering piracy in front of the coast of Somalia, while EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia is working towards disrupting smugglers and traffickers’ networks and has saved more than 28.000 lives up to date in the Southern Central Mediterranean.
2. Reducing human pressure on the oceans and creating the conditions for a sustainable blue economy: With the Paris Agreement having entered into force, the Commission will work to strengthen ocean-related action to implement national and international commitments, starting at Oceans Day at COP22 in Marrakech on 12 November 2016. As oceans absorb 25% of CO2 generated, they are important climate regulators. If no action is taken to limit ocean warming and acidification, oceans risk deregulating the climate.
Combatting illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) is a priority for the EU. At least 15% of catches worldwide, worth €8-19 billion a year, are illegal. As a leader in the fight against IUU fishing, the EU will promote multilateral action and strengthen the role of Interpol in fighting IUU fishing. The Commission will launch a pilot project to monitor illegal fishing worldwide using satellite communications. Marine litter is another major threat to oceans. Under the “Circular Economy Action Plan”, the EU will propose by 2017 a strategy on plastics, which will contribute to reducing marine litter by at least 30% by 2020. The Commission will work towards international guidelines on Maritime Spatial Planning by 2025 and help expand Marine Protected Areas worldwide with funding under Horizon 2020 and LIFE programmes.
3. Strengthening international ocean research and data: An estimated 90% of the oceans’ seabed remains unchartered. Less than 3% is used for economic activity. More understanding and sound scientific knowledge is essential to sustainably manage ocean resources and reduce human pressure. The EU’s Blue Data Network, the European Marine Observation and Data Network, provides data from over 100 marine research bodies and is accessible to all. The Commission will propose how to develop this database into a worldwide marine data network.
Next steps: The proposed actions will now be discussed with the EU Member States in the Council and the European Parliament.
Further information:
The full text of the communication, a list of action and a fact sheet is found on the following DG Mare website http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/policy/ocean-governance_en  and with the Communication available here at http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/sites/maritimeaffairs/files/join-2016-49_en.p

Official EU documents

  • Joint communication: International ocean governance agenda for the future of our oceans (JOIN(2016) 49
  • Synopsis of the outcome of the consultation on international ocean governance (SWD(2016) 352
  • Developing the international dimension of the Integrated Maritime Policy of the European Union (COM(2009)536)
  • Contribution of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) to the implementation of existing obligations, commitments and initiatives of the Member States or the EU at EU or international level in the sphere of environmental protection in marine waters (COM/2012/0662)

World’s largest marine park created in Antarctica; A landmark agreement has been signed by EU and 24 countries to protect the Ross Sea in Antarctica

The international agreement was made o at the conclusion of two weeks of discussions at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which took place in Hobart, Australia.
The 1.1 square kilometres of the Ross Sea around Antarctica will become the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA).
The area will be declared a no-take “general protection zone” where no commercial fishing will be allowed for 35 years and nothing can be removed, including marine life and minerals.
The proposal was introduced by New Zealand and the US, and was unanimously accepted by all nations’ representatives.
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As part of the compromise, there will be special zones where fishing from krill and toothfish will be allowed for research purposes.
It is the first marine park created in international waters and will set a precedent for further moves to help the world achieve the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s recommendation that 30% of the world’s oceans be protected.
The Ross Sea only comprise 2% of the Southern Ocean but is home to 38% of the world’s Adelie penguins, 30% of the world’s Antarctic petrels and around 6% of the world’s population of Antarctic minke whales.
Scientists have also estimated that the Southern ocean produces roughly three quarters of the nutrients that sustain life in all oceans around the world.
Evan Bloom from the US state department, said: “I think it’s a really significant moment. We’ve been working towards this for many years. It’s taken time to get consensus but now we have established the world’s largest marine protected area.”
Chris Johnson, WWF-Australia’s ocean science manager, said: “Today’s agreement is a turning point for the protection of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. This is important not just for the incredible diversity of life that it will protect, but also for the contribution it makes to building the resilience of the world’s ocean in the face of climate change.”
Lewis Pugh, the UN Patron for the Oceans, said: “I’m absolutely overjoyed. This is the biggest protected area on the land or the sea, this is the first large scale MPA on the high seas…For me this is an issue about justice – justice between generations. There seems to be something fundamentally wrong with us destroying our oceans so our children and grandchildren have absolutely nothing.”
Further information

The European Marine Board and United Front in Ocean Observation

As the world’s oceans become increasingly exposed to rapidly growing pressures, long-term data sets are fundamental for monitoring these processes and understanding the complex and vast oceanic environment. In July 2016, the European Marine Board (EMB), a partnership of major national marine and oceanographic institutes in Europe, identified critical gaps within ocean observation and seafloor mapping capabilities. Their mission, along with many organizations and networks, is to unite existing ocean observing capacity and launch Europe into a time of ocean erudition.
 
For 20 years the EMB has provided a unique platform for the successful development of marine research policy and strategy. The formation of partnerships and the birth of valuable networks has been a product of EMB activity, influencing marine research throughout Europe, and the world. Today, the EMB represents 35 member organizations and provides a united front enabling Europe to form a common vision and find solutions to address key global issues. 
 
Deputy Director of Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research (AWI), Chair of Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and EMB member Prof. Karen Wiltshire explains, “Observations are imperative for the earth systems future. The world is blue, so, therefore, the amount of knowledge that we require in order to survive and adapt to climate change is quite considerable. We cannot do this without ocean observations. Unless we know how our oceans are structured, which includes seafloor mapping, we can’t come up with good strategies for moorings or governance. We still don’t know what type of habitats we have in our oceans. It is because we lack this knowledge that we cannot yet know all the areas that should be observed.”
 
EU directives and policies such as the Integrated Maritime Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Marine Spatial Planning Directive and the Common Fisheries Policy all rely fundamentally on marine observations, data and data products for their successful implementation. As most of the ocean lies beyond the jurisdiction of individual nations, coordinated international collaborations, such as the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water-column Observatory (EMSO) and Euro-Argo, are essential for developing and operating fit-for-purpose ocean observing systems and their integration into modeling and forecasting activities. The EU has also been active in implementing a Europe-wide effort to promote the accessibility and use by multiple sectors of marine data. The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is Commission action designed to implement the far-reaching strategic goals of the EU Marine Knowledge 2020 Strategy, which sets targets for vastly improved knowledge of Europe’s marine territories.
 
Since its establishment, the EMB has advocated for a more coordinated and effective European effort to monitor and understand the state and variability of Europe’s regional seas and the global ocean. The European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS) and the EMB are working together to promote and facilitate an overarching framework for advancing ocean observation across Europe, referred to as the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS). This comprehensive framework will connect more effectively the currently fragmented and complex ocean observing capacity and act as a single, well-organized voice for Europe.
 
Niall McDonough, Executive Secretary, EMB comments, “EOOS will not take ownership or control of ocean observing in Europe. Rather, EOOS will provide a light and flexible coordinating framework, making it more efficient and effective at different geographical scales and for different users. In this way, EOOS can help add value to existing observing efforts, empowering those who are already working to advance ocean observing in Europe, and catalyzing new initiatives in a strategic way, targeting identified gaps and communicating progress to a wide range of stakeholders.”
 
Marine ecosystems are already under considerable pressure from global climate change and ocean acidification as well as localized stressors from human pollution and commercial activities. Although international efforts are underway to monitor the ocean and these impacts, only 5% of the seafloor has been surveyed to modern standards. There are also significant issues in terms of spatial coverage, the parameters being measured, the frequency of collection and the availability and ease of access to quality controlled data in real-time, or near real-time. 
 
According to the EMB, particular emphasis must also be placed on biological observing. While a relatively advanced operational oceanography capability collects physical data at a global scale from both in situ and satellite systems, the collection of chemical, biogeochemical and biological data remains ad hoc and much less developed. There are few sustained biological observatories, a dwindling number of taxonomic experts and limited funding opportunities to increase observing efforts for biological or ecological characteristics. The EMB has recognized this as an urgent aspect to address and will begin work in late 2016 to produce a policy paper with recommendations on future biological observing needs.
 
“It will never be possible to have a full picture in time and space, so it is critical to ensure that all ocean observation efforts are maximized in terms of the use and relevance of data across multiple users including science, industry and government authorities. 
 
This is why we need close cooperation and coordination,” says McDonough. “From a scientific perspective, a particular emphasis must also be placed on long-term observing initiatives which deliver decadal time series, whether that be physical, chemical or biological. Understanding patterns of change and the impacts on marine systems is dependent on sustained operational observations.” 
 
Geographically, there are still many areas which are in need of long term observation that has not long been realized. These gaps exist for several reasons including logistics, resources and funding, but also due to the evolving focus and shifts in modern concerns over time.
 
Wiltshire adds, “The Arctic is now an area of concern. Gaps in Arctic ocean observations have a lot to do with the evolution of needs of individual countries, such as transport and general governance questions. We also have a critical gap in the upper North Sea as it’s very hard for us to get information as to how the water moves there. We have to model it and we also have to set up a few more long term moorings. Maybe 20 years ago, we might not have thought about the Arctic as we do now nor realized how important the inflow and outflow of the North Sea is. The more information we have, for example with climate change, the more we realize we might be missing bits. It’s up to us to readjust some of our observation systems to current concerns.”
 
Another key area within ocean observation, one EMB sees potential for immense opportunity, lies in the development of new observing sensors and platforms. Technology is advancing rapidly and with it the capacity for autonomous systems to be deployed for longer periods with lower energy demands. The support of innovation and advancement in future observing technologies will be key to achieving goals in ocean observation, both within Europe and globally.

Advancement through Unity 
The EU Blue Economy provides over five million jobs and approximately 4% of Europe’s Gross Domestic Product. New technologies, including underwater engineering and DNA sequencing, offer possibilities to increase the contribution between marine industry and science sectors. To capture this potential, the European Commission has launched a Blue Growth initiative which explores new ways to contribute to the EU’s economy through technological, industrial and financial innovation while respecting the scarcity and vulnerability of marine resources. 
 
Industry collects considerable amounts of ocean data throughout the process of offshore development, oil and gas, fisheries and aquaculture and ocean energy. Through openly sharing expertise and the creation of new opportunities for knowledge and data transfer, the EMB believe the benefits will be felt by both industry and science, forming a strong foundation to achieving a data-rich future for all.
 
Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Galway, Ireland and EMB member, describes the opportunities created by linking industry and scientific resources, “Ireland has existing expertise across a number of the key enabling technologies required to develop products and services that will support growth in emerging areas of the global blue economy while creating efficiencies and supporting sustainability across more established markets. Expertise in areas such as sensors, platforms, communications, robotics, informatics, computer vision and advanced materials can be harnessed in new ways to drive innovation in global marine markets with high growth potential. This will also support the sustainable development of our significant marine resource that is uniquely situated on the European Atlantic seaboard and a potential hotspot for developments in areas such as renewable energy, fisheries, shipping, marine security and surveillance and marine biotechnology.”
 
Against the Tide
The dream of an integrated ocean observation network, both internationally and across sectors will first need to overcome some key challenges. International cooperation is critical as is targeting appropriate funding in the right areas such as new biological sensors, training and reinvigorating Europe’s declining taxonomic expertise. High-risk projects must also be supported in order to develop innovation. 
 
There needs to be more opportunities which allow for marine data sharing collected by private enterprise to be utilized by science and public agencies. Data collected through publicly-funded initiatives, including research, must also be accessible and useful for industry in support of Blue Growth. Both these aspects, however, will first need to overcome the associated legal issues. The Commission is moving toward this goal for data generated through EC-funded research projects. From 2017, Horizon 2020 is adopting an open data policy for all projects funded through the program.
 
Finally, making the case to decision makers of the importance to investing in ocean observing systems and infrastructure requires better economic cost-benefit arguments.
 
Europe also lacks a ‘seabed mapping research center of excellence’. Knowledge resources are spread across numerous agencies and research centers, and related expertise has not been mapped out to date. This is largely because seabed mapping programs have been nationally operated rather than international research focused, as is the case with ocean observation. Resource allocation to assess the current knowledge and expertise base, and encourage collaboration between operational entities is also required. 
 
“Key seabed mapping data programs already in place don’t necessarily involve the key operational agencies or researchers. Partnerships are often developed through historical programs and initiatives, rather than bringing together the most appropriate expertise. Resource allocation mechanisms to bring all strategic stakeholders together is required, such as a network of marine data centers or active seabed mapping organizations,” explains Heffernan. “Ireland has built up considerable expertise in seabed mapping through INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping program carried out by the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute. It is one of the largest civilian mapping exercises undertaken worldwide.” 
 
EMB has recently met through a high-level delegation with the EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, to discuss needs and strategic actions to improve Europe’s ocean observing system. While the meeting on July 8, 2016 produced a number of follow-up actions, the EMB will continue to work with the Commissioner and DG MARE to develop and shape the next actions to promote and expand Europe’s ocean observing capacity.
 
Going forward, the EMB will continue to work with its partner network, EuroGOOS, to develop EOOS. A Roadmap for EOOS is currently in development and will be discussed at a special event in the European Parliament on September 8. This will be followed by an open consultation with all stakeholders on EOOS in autumn 2016. 
 
“The global Ocean is facing multiple anthropogenic and natural stressors and consequently marine ecosystems are increasingly vulnerable to exceeding tipping points which may lead to irreversible change. Society will rely on scientific information to tackle these threats and potentially even turn challenges into opportunities A particularly important goal is to achieve a balance between protecting the marine environment and supporting Blue Growth,” states McDonough.
 
Further information:

 
Acknowledgements
Niall McDonough, Executive Secretary, European Marine Board
Prof Karen Wiltshire, Deputy Director of Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research (AWI) and Chair of Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO)
Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Ireland
 
 
(As published in the September 2016 edition of Marine Technology Reporter)

UK Wildlife Trusts call on UK Government to create more Marine Conservation Zones to fill gaps in UK network of marine protected areas

The Wildlife Trusts publish a new report, ‘The case for more Marine Conservation Zones’. The report identifies 48 areas at sea that still need protection for their marine habitats and wildlife.
Nine of the sites identified are off Devon’s coasts, with two areas in the Bristol Channel, one in Lyme Bay and six Devon estuaries recommended as MCZs.
Following the designation of 50 Marine Conservation Zones since 2011 (of which six are in Devon) these new sites would complete a network of special places where habitats and wildlife can flourish to safeguard healthy and productive seas for the future.
All but one of the Devon sites in the report have already been recommended as Marine Conservation Zones in a previous report to the government following local consultations representing all sea-users in the south west.
The new report is published in advance of the government’s plans to announce a third and final phase of Marine Conservation Zones – the government plans to consult the public in 2017 and designate the chosen sites in 2018 – and will  be presented to the environment minister, Therese Coffey.
The nine MCZs recommended in coastal and offshore areas of Devon are:
1. Axe Estuary
Where? East Devon, near Seaton
Why? Important for saltmarsh and mudflats, feeding grounds for wading birds and nursery areas for fish such as bass
2. Dart Estuary
Where? South Hams, upstream of Dartmouth
Why? Habitats provide food and shelter for huge range of species including seahorses, oysters, mussels, sponges and anemones.
3. Devon Avon Estuary
Where? South Hams, near Bigbury
Why? Important nursery areas for crustaceans, molluscs and juvenile fish
4. Erme Estuary
Where? South Hams
Why? Habitats for lobsters and crabs, spawning grounds for sea trout
5. Lyme Bay Deeps
Where? 1055 sq km in south-west of Lyme Bay
Why? Area used by white beaked dolphins for feeding, breeding and raising their young. Also important for common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise. Basking shark and minke whale also recorded here. Feeding grounds for seabirds such as guillemot, razorbill and Balearic shearwater
6. Morte Platform
Where? Bristol Channel, 5km off Baggy Point
Why? Rich communities of subtidal living reefs including ross worm reefs and mussel beds which provide shelter for many other marine species
7. North-west of Lundy
Where? Bristol Channel, north-west of Lundy
Why? Diverse seabed habitats supporting higher than average range of species, including burrowing worms, clams and anemones.
8. Otter Estuary
Where? East Devon, near Budleigh Salterton
Why? Important for saltmarsh and mudflats, feeding grounds for wading birds such as curlew and lapwing. Nursery areas for several fish species
9. Taw/Torridge Estuary 
Where? North Devon, near Barnstaple and Bideford
Why? Important habitat for migratory European eels, feeding grounds for wading birds, nursery area for fish such as bass
Further Information
Read “The case for more Marine Conservation Zones” report here

High seas fisheries: what role for a new international instrument?

The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) has released a new discussion paper on fisheries to coincide with the second session of the PrepCom for a new agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The discussion paper, High seas fisheries: what role for a new international instrument?, is available here: http://www.iddri.org/Publications/High-seas-fisheries-what-role-for-a-new-international-instrument

 

This discussion paper is accompanied by a short brief, An overview of vulnerable marine ecosystem closures, available here: http://www.iddri.org/Publications/An-overview-of-vulnerable-marine-ecosystem-closures
We are interested in hearing your comments and feedback, which would help us to further develop these proposals.
Two previous publications may also be of interest to those following the negotiations: