The seas around us are home to an extraordinary variety of marine habitats, which must also support a range of marine industries. The challenge for marine spatial management is to find the balance between competing demands of economic use, ecological development and conservation of the natural environment. The EU-funded MESMA (Monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed areas) project developed integrated management tools, including concepts models and guidelines, for monitoring, evaluation and implementation of spatially managed marine areas. Project partners set out to produce innovative methods and integrated strategies for governments, local authorities and other bodies. These approaches were used for decision-making at the local, national and European level for the sustainable development of Europe’s seas. Work began with an extensive review of management in European marine areas, and the creation of a catalogue of over 60 marine habitats. The data collected was used to develop an analytical framework, which was tested in nine case study laboratories to form the basis of a Europe-wide analysis. The framework focused on both the ecological and governance aspects of the spatially managed area. This was used to assess how effective existing and proposed management measures are. Another aspect of the project was focused on collecting a range of previously developed tools for marine spatial planning. A manual guiding users through the step by step analysis of monitoring and evaluating spatially managed areas was also developed by the consortium. The electronic prototype version of the framework and manual can be viewed here. Ultimately, MESMA will supply an operational framework and a set of monitoring and evaluation tools for national governments and local authorities. Project outcomes will also support dialogue between stakeholders when it comes to sustainable exploitation of the marine environment.
Sustainable management, Europe, marine spaces, MESMA, marine habitats, spatial planning