Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Ecosystem Based Management System


The project “Knowledge-bases Sustainable Management for Europe’s Seas” (KnowSeas) was financed by the EU-7FP in the period 2009-2013. Its final objective was “A comprehensive scientific knowledge base and practical guidance for the application of the Ecosystem Approach to the sustainable development of Europe’s regional seas” it developed a standard system of procedures and tools called “Ecosystem-Based Management System” (EBMS). The objective of EBMS was to facilitate the implementation of the environmental management with the values of the management by ecosystem giving a better implementation of this strategy of the United Nations. KNOSWSEAS+ has obtained additional funds that allows them to accomplish with the objective of implement this system for the following two years (2015-2016).

The project started in April 2009, has 32 partners from 15 countries and is coordinated by the Scottish Association for Marine Science. It ended in June 2013.

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

Questions this practice may help answer

  • How were specific planning steps (e.g. stocktake, conflict analysis) implemented within KnowSeas?
  • What were the outcomes of the activities that that took place within the context of KnowSeas?
  • What lessons can be learned from the KnowSeas experience?

Implementation Context

This publication provides an overview of the outcomes, results and lessons to be learnt from the numerous activities undertaken within the context of the KnowSeas project, and it is mostly based on activities and results of EBMS.

Aspects / Objectives

The purpose of this report is to extract general lessons which can be applied to other maritime planning contexts, in the hope of offering useful pointers on how to tackle MSP processes both at the national and the transnational level.


A networking methodology has been applied to include multiple research fields and multidisciplinary thinking as the Ecosystems Approach will best be understood when involving scientists from different backgrounds. The project involves 32 partners from 15 countries and is coordinated by the Scottish Association for marine science (SAMS), United Kingdom. One part of the work is focusing on translating ecological services to monetary value through systems analysis: Ecologists are using existing modeling methods to analyze the systems and to foresee future outputs from the marine environments. Additionally, the economic values of these outputs are evaluated by economists. Another focus is integration, implementing the Ecosystems Approach with respect to the cultural differences in the European countries. This is achieved through stakeholder analysis, investigating the differences in attitudes and expectations towards the seas. 

Four case studies related to regional seas (the North East Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea) are performed with support from experts with experience from the region. In the case studies, a number of key issues are investigated and the result from the studies will provide information on how EU member states are implementing the MSFD. The on-going project is coming to an end in 2013 and is affiliated with the LOICZ (Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone) project and the programme LWEC (Living with Environmental Change). Its predecessor was the European Commission FP6 project ELME (European Lifestyles and Marine Ecosystems), and the framework from the ELME project is now being employed in the present one.

A communication team is working on disseminating the results from the project. Some of the results are presented as policy briefs, targeting policy makers at all levels and other stakeholders within the field. Also, there will be a web-based toolbox and guidelines in nine different areas, aiming to improve stakeholder analysis. Preferably, these will all be embedded in the future strategic planning process of policy makers, adding to the number of damage-reducing techniques in the policy area. The final results from the project have not yet been presented and the technology readiness level is therefore estimated to be 6 on the TRL scale, according to the scope of the seventh framework programme, which provides public grant partial funding for R&D.

Main Outputs / Results

The Ecosystem-Based Management System for Europe’s Seas incorporates the experiences of the project deliverables into a structured and accessible web portal:


Although this report draws mainly on the KnowSeas experience, it is its stated purpose to extract general lessons that can be applied to other maritime planning contexts.

Contact Person

Rafael Sardá Borroy

CSIC (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas) (sarda[at]cecab[dot]csic[dot]es)

Responsible Entity

CSIC (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas)

C/ d’accés a la Cala St. Francesc, 13. Blandes – Girona – 17300 (España)

Tel. +34 972336101

Costs / funding Source

7th EU Framework Programme; Direct costs of its elaboration are unknown