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Can multi-use of the sea be safe? A framework for risk assessment of multi-use at sea.


By 2050 the world population is expected to reach 10 billion people. This population needs food, water and energy. Increasingly, opportunities are sought out at sea to accommodate these needs. As there is already competition for space, especially in the near-shore, opportunities for multi-use, including the combination of, for example, food and energy production in a single location, are sought. One issue that needs to be addressed to allow for multi-use at sea is safety. Existing frameworks for (marine) risk assessment tend to be rather sector specific and, although existing models and frameworks for risk analysis provide useful elements for an integrated analysis, none of the approaches fully caters for the need of having a framework based on a cyclical process of stakeholder input in all steps of the process of risk identification, risk management and risk evaluation and communication, identifying actions to be taken and providing tools useful in each of the steps, while integrating the three perspectives of maritime safety, food (and feed) safety, and environmental impact assessment and the different perspectives of the actors involved. This study developed a common framework for the risk assessment of multi-use at sea, consisting of six steps (Exploring, Understanding, Appraising, Deciding, Implementing and Evaluating & Communication). The framework encompasses and integrates an analysis of food and feed safety aspects, the safety of people and equipment, and environmental safety aspects. For each step, actions are defined, tools that can be of help to stakeholders are presented, and stakeholder participation measures are described. The framework is iterative and dynamic in its nature; with constant communication and evaluation of progress, decisions can be taken to either take a step forward or back. The framework is developed to assist operators and producers, policymakers, and other stakeholders in assessing and managing risks of multi-use at sea.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • What are the definitions of hazards and risks? 
  • What is the social perception of risks?  
  • How to assess risks?  
  • What safety aspects need to be considered in the risk assessment?  

Implementation Context:

This study was drafted by the researchers from the Wageningen University and Research of the Netherlands.  

Aspects / Objectives:

The framework developed aims to assist operators and producers, policymakers, and other stakeholders in assessing and managing risks of multi-use at sea.


The study is based on the extensive literature review (i.e. risk assessments, discussions on definitions of risks and hazards) and the results of the workshop (that brought together nearly thirty representatives of NGOs, national authorities, scientists, practitioners etc.). It applied the scenario of the Egmond offshore wind farm in the Dutch North Sea with the focus on food and feed safety, safety of people and equipment, and environmental safety aspects. 

Main Outputs / Results:

The authors provide a framework for the risk assessment, management and communication, and address the issues of current risk assessment practices. The study contributes to a better understanding of safety aspects of multi-use at sea.


The methodological framework for risk assessment of multi-use at sea is applicable to any similar project.  

Responsible Entity:

Wageningen Marine Research, Part of Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands.

Costs / Funding Source:

Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands. 

Co-funded by Lloyd's Register Foundation.  

Contact person:

L. van Hoof: (Luc[dot]vanhoof[at]wur[dot]nl)



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