The first MSPglobal online seminar in Arabic was organized on 27 May 2020 on the topic of “Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and Sustainable Blue Economy” with a total of 92 participants (45% female; 55% male).
Discussions focused on the development of blue economy and MSP strategies and the opportunities and challenges they both offer in various sea basins such as the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and the Adriatic Sea.
Mr. Aomar Bourhim (Kingdom of Morocco) started the discussion by offering an overview of the local, regional and international dimension of the blue economy strategies and MSP. He presented a number of actions carried by the Moroccan kingdom to promote the establishment of a sustainable blue economy in the fisheries sector. Among them the HALIEUTIS Plan (2009), the creation of the National Aquaculture Development Agency in 2011 as well as the launch of the Blue Belt Initiative in 2016 to provide a collaborative and unifying platform for the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in Africa.
Mr. Maher A-Aziz Amer representing the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA1), highlighted that the blue economy offers the means to develop new opportunities in various maritime sectors in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden such as renewable energies, fisheries and extraction of living and non-living resources as well as ecotourism and recreation opportunities. Furthermore, Mr. Amer argued that MSP in the context of the Red Sea, in addition to its ability to reduce conflicts of uses in the marine space and secure the sustainable use of marine resources, can be a great tool to insure the transparency, stability and predictability of the expanding mega projects in the Red Sea.
According to Ms. Vera Noon (Lebanon), although Lebanon is developing a law on Integrated Coastal Zone Management under the Barcelona Convention, no mechanism to implement MSP exists in the country. Ms. Noon explained that implementing blue economy strategies through MSP can offer multiple opportunities to Lebanon and its neighboring countries such as enhancing domestic tourism, protecting marine cultural heritage and providing investment opportunities in renewable energy. She recommended the development of a comprehensive plan for the Lebanese marine space with principles and guidelines for key sectors.
Mr. Anis Zarrouk, representing the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), provided a general view on the interconnection between the MSP process and management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in terms of ecosystem conservation and sustainable human activities. He also presented a pilot case study elaborated by RAC/SPA in Albania to support the implementation of MSP in the Adriatic Sea by incorporating the provisions of the Barcelona Convention Protocol on Integrated Coastal Area Management and the European Parliament and Council’s Directive establishing a framework for MSP.
Participants joined the online event from 23 different countries: Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
MSP and Blue Economy
1 PERSGA’s Member States are Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Northern countries are more advanced in the development of their MSP: Egypt through localized MSP case studies on its Mediterranean coast, Jordan through a marine spatial plan all along its coast and Saudi Arabia through its mega projects. Southern countries, on the other hand, have not yet developed MSP; PERSGA is assisting them through the organization of capacity development activities on MSP and also by supporting its Member States in preparing zoning plans for all MPAs, especially in countries with no marine spatial plans.