Planning for our seas

1979 was a year to remember. It was when the first ever piece of EU nature legislation was adopted, the Wild Birds Directive. Then came the Habitats Directive in 1992, and together the “Nature Directives” were born, underpinning nature protection in Europe. 1979 was also the same year that the eminent fisheries biologist H.A. Cole asked…

What is wrong with the conception of sea areas managed with particular objectives as priorities? … It has long been accepted that the use of land must be planned and its management controlled with human welfare as the dominant interest; why is it so difficult to accept this view when considering the sea?”

Cole worried that human conflicts in the sea were harming marine resources, especially fisheries. At the time, marine spatial planning (MSP) was developing in conservation areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, and he wondered how it could be expanded to include all activities and areas.

MSP was then forgotten for a while, but has just come back with a bang and is being seen as the key to unlock economic growth in Europe, so much so that it now has a Directive of its own (the “Maritime Spatial Planning Directive”). Why all the sudden interest?

Read more here.

Alec Taylor, Senior Marine Policy officer at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), UK

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