Download9 Other Human Uses and Impacts

Towards Integrated Management

The multiple pressures on the marine environment are increasing. Understanding the relative and cumulative environmental impacts of human activities and their integrated management remains a challenge.

The demand for marine resources and space is increasing and there is a growing necessity to balance the needs of different sectors and conservation. New activities, such as offshore wind farm development, alongside increased demands for marine sand and gravel, and growing marine transport, tourism and leisure activity, mariculture and fishing are the main forces driving these demands. OSPAR needs to keep under review the development of pressures from these different activities and the extent of their impacts. Understanding of cumulative impacts is needed. Effective implementation of integrated management, including marine spatial planning, is required to avoid or minimise negative effects on the marine environment and conflicts between different users.

More efforts are needed to move towards integrated management, building on existing achievements

Although integrated management of human activities has not yet been achieved throughout the North-East Atlantic, there are examples of good practice in some parts of the OSPAR area (e.g. Norway, Germany and the Netherlands) and this has led to substantial expertise in marine spatial planning.

Box 9.11 Integrated management and marine spatial planning in the Barents Sea

In 2006, the Norwegian government endorsed a plan for ‘Integrated Management of the Marine Environment of the Barents Sea and the sea areas off the Lofoten Islands’. A similar plan for the Norwegian Sea was endorsed by the parliament in 2009.

These management plans provide the political basis for managing these important sea areas. The areas include a variety of vulnerable habitats as well as valuable marine living resources and petroleum resources. Indicators with reference values and action thresholds have been developed. Extensive coordinated monitoring will ensure a scientific base for management according to the defined action thresholds.

The management plans give the overall framework for both existing and new activities and facilitate co-existence between different sectors, in particular the fisheries, maritime transport and the offshore petroleum industry. Spatial planning is a core element in the integrated management plans. In order to reduce potential conflicts between activities and the protection of vulnerable habitats and species, special restrictions are set for the use of geographically defined areas and zones. These include areas and zones with restrictions on petroleum activities (see figure), mandatory shipping lanes, and areas with coral reefs where fishing with gear able to harm the corals is prohibited. The management plans will be rolling plans and will be updated at regular intervals. The Barents Sea plan will be revised in 2010.

OSPAR should promote transboundary and cross-sectoral cooperation on integrated management by the following:

  • Developing and implementing a regionally-based integrated approach to the management of human activities, which meets the requirements of the OSPAR Convention and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. This should apply the ecosystem approach, making best use of tools such as marine spatial planning, integrated coastal zone management, cumulative impacts assessments, adaptive management and economic and social analysis.
  • More coherent implementation of measures across the OSPAR area. Special attention should be given to the assessment and management of human activities in Regions I and V, particularly in areas beyond national jurisdiction, in cooperation with other competent authorities.
  • Intensifying cooperation and communication on the management of the marine environment with other competent authorities, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Seabed Authority and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. Where appropriate, close cooperation on monitoring and assessment should be developed, for example with the Arctic Council.
  • Cooperating with the IMO and other international organisations to reduce further the environmental impacts of shipping and to promote maritime safety. In particular, to implement further the commitments from the Gothenburg Declaration 2006 and work towards an integrated approach to sustainable shipping.
  • Supporting actions and measures on activities or pressures that are not yet adequately covered by other international bodies and/or legislation and have been assessed as requiring such measures. Issues that need such consideration include litter and noise.

Gaps in knowledge make a comprehensive assessment difficult

In spite of progress made in scientific research and more comprehensive assessment and monitoring programmes, some of the gaps in knowledge on the effects of human activities recognised in the QSR 2000 still remain. Key shortcomings are as follows:

  • Data on spatial and temporal trends of some human activities and their effects on the marine environment are incomplete or lacking.
  • Much effort has been put into developing approaches for assessing cumulative effects, but standard methods have yet to be agreed and only very few data on cumulative effects of human activities are available.
  • Limited transboundary and cross-sectoral cooperation, for example, on site selection and mitigation measures for wind farm development.
  • Information from EIAs and related monitoring programmes is often inaccessible to the public. Its use for sub-regional or OSPAR-wide assessments of human activities is also hampered by limited comparability of the data.

OSPAR should intensify efforts to achieve harmonised, comprehensive assessment and monitoring of human activities as a basis for implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and its concept of good environmental status by EU Member States. Gaps in knowledge should be filled, particularly concerning effects of human activities on biodiversity.

Continued use of the precautionary approach is required

Protection of the marine environment must take into account uncertainties in understanding the effects of new activities and the ability of ecosystems to adapt and respond to changes. OSPAR should promote the following:

  • Continued application of the precautionary approach to ecosystem based management of human activities.
  • Adaptation of management of human activities to climate change, taking into account additional pressure on species and habitats from expected consequences such as warmer and more acidic seawater, rising sea level and more extreme weather conditions Chapter 3.
  • Further investment in the development and application of best available techniques (BAT) and best environmental practices (BEP). This will help safeguard sustainable use of marine resources as well as the promotion of technological progress and development.
  • Continued review of developing activities, such as tidal stream and wave energy production.

Regional summary of past trends and outlook for human activities discussed in Chapter 9

Summary table