West Mediterranean: State of play of Marine Spatial Planning and Blue Economy

For the online seminar organized on 24 June 2020 in the context of its pilot project in the West Mediterranean, MSPglobal brought together more than one hundred participants (56% male; 44% female) to learn more about the development of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and Sustainable Blue Economy in the region, with concrete examples from Algeria, Spain, France, Italy and Morocco.

Mr. Samir Bachouche (National Center for Research and Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Algeria) mentioned that Algeria is in the process of finalizing its 2030 National Strategy for the Blue Economy in cooperation with the European Union. Some of the most important economic sectors of the country are linked to maritime activities: tourism, fisheries, transport and environmental protection, with investments in the range of several tens of billions of euros.

Benefits to advancing the Blue Economy in Algeria include job creation (particularly for youth), the development of renewable energies as well as the preservation of natural resources in the face of climate change and ocean acidification. MSP can be one of the pillars to achieving these objectives thanks to its participatory process to build an integrated and common vision between different stakeholders.

Ms. Sagrario Arrieta (Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Government of Spain) highlighted that, according to the EU Blue Economy Report 2020, Spain is the first contributor to the EU Blue Economy in terms of employment, with almost 945,000 jobs generating over €32.7 billion in gross value added (2018). Launched in 2010, the MSP process in Spain has helped provide the state of play and maps for the sectors of aquaculture, fisheries, cables and pipelines, oil and gas, and maritime transport.

Ms. Arrieta further explained how Spain developed its MSP objectives building on the sectoral objectives of both private and public users of the sea. This was made possible thanks to stakeholder engagement through meetings with sectors and workshops in the framework of projects, although much remains to be done, especially at subdivision level, to make sure that all people involved can send comments and suggestions about the MSP process.

Mr. Ludovic Schultz (Secretariat General for the Sea, Government of France) presented France’s National Strategy for the Sea and Coast (2017), which promotes four priorities including the development of the Sustainable Blue Economy. The French Mediterranean coast has a population of over 7 million, 70% of whom live in a 50km strip along the coast, and a high concentration and diversity of economic activities, among others: artisanal fisheries, aquaculture, construction and maintenance of civil and military vessels, pleasure boating (1/4 of the world’s yacht fleet is based in the French Riviera), tourism, sailing as well as port activity and logistics.

Following a broad consultation process, a strategy document for the Mediterranean sea basin was adopted in November 2019 to reconcile the development of the Blue Economy and protection of marine ecosystems. It includes an inventory and mapping of regional economic and environmental aspects, objectives for the development of economic activities and restoration of the marine environment, and an action plan to achieve these different objectives.

In Italy, the Blue Economy represents 880,000 jobs (3.5% of total employment) and 8.5% of total gross value added (direct and indirect). Introducing the different components of MSP in his country, Dr. Andrea Barbanti (Italian National Research Council-Institute of Marine Sciences) specified the six phases of the preparation process and three marine regions identified for its implementation (Adriatic, Ionian-Central Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian).

There are also multiple scales to take into account: for instance, the Adriatic marine region of Italy has been divided into nine sub-areas (six in territorial waters and three in continental shelf). This implies a multi-level and multi-sectoral approach to defining the vision and strategic objectives of the MSP process, with involvement of stakeholders at both marine regions and local scale. Moreover, sectoral plans at national and regional level are being considered during the preparation phase with a view to integrate them in the marine spatial plan and promote their harmonized evolution in an MSP framework for Italy.

Mr. Aomar Bourhim (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests, Government of Morocco) explained Morocco’s three-dimensional approach to marine and coastal issues: natural capital (natural heritage, natural resources, maritime and coastal space), produced capital (financial capital, infrastructure and services) and human capital (knowledge and know-how, culture and heritage, governance, laws and institutions). Furthermore, thanks to its strategic position (Strait of Gibraltar and port of Tangier Med) as well as a new generation of ports, construction of marinas and development of bays and lagoons, among others, the country has become one of the leaders of liner shipping connectivity in Africa.

Mr. Bourhim described a number of Moroccan initiatives related to MSP and the Blue Economy: the establishment of three marine protected areas (MPAs) for fishing purposes, the HALIEUTIS fisheries development strategy based on performance, competitiveness and sustainability, the creation of the National Aquaculture Development Agency and the launch of the Blue Belt Initiative.

The five national representatives made the following recommendations to improve the effective and sustainable integration of MSP and Blue Economy processes at sea-basin level:

  • Promote and integrate different strategies and technologies to facilitate existing policies;
  • Use feedback from the northern Mediterranean countries for the development of the processes in the southern Mediterranean countries;
  • Identify common challenges in the region, e.g., environmental vulnerability of the marine environment, challenges related to socio-eco processes, importance of local communities, climate change
  • Promote transfer and sharing of information as well as a knowledge-base on MSP among Mediterranean coastal states to bridge the science-policy interface;
  • Improve horizontal governance, schemes and mechanisms with sectors;
  • Seize the opportunities offered by regional and international cooperation through common projects to strengthen collaboration between countries (e.g., WestMed Initiative, MSPglobal Initiative, BlueMed Initiative, MSP-MED Project, etc.).

The participants were also invited to share their own recommendations, which can be found in the “Poll results” document below.

MSP in the West Mediterranean
Poll results

MSPglobal pilot project in the West Mediterranean


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