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Climate change

Main issues

Climate change aspects have to be taken into account in various ways in MSP processes:

  • Direct impact of climate change on the seas and resulting new opportunities and restrictions for human kind to use it as resource: planning has to be based on the best up-to-date knowledge on the current and projected climate and oceanographic conditions in the MSP areas and needs to incorporate new knowledge in the update cycles (according to an adaptive approach).
  • Indirect connections to MSP: climate change effect can directly and indirectly impact marine ecosystems and related biological resources. Resilient marine ecosystems and related services are essential in providing benefits to human well-being in terms of food production (fishery and aquaculture), recreation, tourism, mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, and disaster risk reduction for coastal areas.
  • Demands on the use of marine areas for the production of various forms of fossil-free energy (offshore wind and wave power) is expected to increase also to cope with mitigation targets. Mitigation of climate change may also involve changing transport patterns, e.g. a transfer from road to sea, provided that shipping can make use of fossil-free fuels or low-emission propulsion. Mitigation can even refer to the “Blue Carbon” initiative, including zoning seabed areas for potential carbon storage, and can be further triggered by new opportunities and innovation offered by the Blue Growth policy. MSP must be therefore viewed in the light of existing national and international climate policy and its likely changes.
  • From a climate change adaptation perspective, there may be demands that need to be considered in MSP, e.g. coastal erosion adaptation measures (beach nourishment and dune reconstruction) may increase demand for research and excavation of sub-marine sand deposit; climate change adaptation of the fishery sector might require fishing restrictions including no-take areas, MPAs resilience can be improved through networking. Climate-proofing of off-shore installations is also essential to properly deal with a long-term perspective.
  • Regional and national policies for ocean planning, as well as individual processes (both in terms of legislation and of actual ocean plans) need to be able to effectively incorporate change to thrive in a dynamic and uncertain future. Operational approaches to foster such flexibility, such as just-in-time planning, dynamic ocean management or dynamic ocean zoning must be explicitly identified, and implemented[1]. To date, marine oriented adaptation measures are still few in comparison with those developed in other sectors (see Climate-ADAPT web-platform for updated information on climate change adaptation in various sectors, including marine and fisheries). As pointed out by BaltSeaPlan Findings, policy related to climate change requires greater maritime orientation.

[1] Santos C. F., Agardy T., Andrade F., Barange M., Crowder L. B., Ehler C. N., Orbach M. K., Rosa R. 2016. Ocean planning in a changing climate. Nature Geoscience 9.

Please note that this section of the EU MSP Platform website is not currently being updated with new information. However, the resources throughout our website remain relevant to our mission of sharing knowledge and experiences on MSP in the EU.

Frequently asked questions

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