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GPS-AZORES: Geographical and Political Scenarios in Maritime Spatial Planning for the Azores and North Atlantic

Abstract:

From the Law of the Sea perspective, marine waters and seabed between Europe and North America are increasingly within national jurisdictions, due to submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and associated declarations of sovereign rights. States are now recognizing the need for a governance framework that applies a more integrated approach to maritime policy. The GPS-Azores - Geographical and Political Scenarios in Maritime Spatial Planning for the Azores and North Atlantic offers a proposal for geographical and political maritime scenarios definition for Azores maritime spatial planning (MSP). It presents different approaches to marine environmental management based on existing legislation for the North Atlantic, structuring the analysis in graphic layers of an “horrendogram” structure. New holistic and sectoral legislation may need to target the integration of different national legislations for cooperative transnational or regional framework as island geography. This clearly determines the use of the various maritime spaces in Macaronesia in many and diversified ways. Recognizing these specificities is key for planning and managing the sustainable use of each of these maritime spaces. Alternative visons of how the future may unfold can help to promote discussion and better decisions of MSP initiatives. Different drivers have shaped three trajectories in the future state of the marine environment and of maritime sectors and activities, largely accounting for the main dissimilarities between scenarios. The “business-as-usual” (BAU) scenario was market-driven and shaped by socioeconomic and demographic pressures. The protection and nature conservation were the main drivers under the “nature-at-work” (N@W) scenario. Investments in emerging sectors, research and development, and innovative technology were the main drivers in the “business-development” (BD) scenario. A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) provides an overview of how the environment can be affected and thus integrates this concern in the processes of planning and decision-making. The present SEA identified conflicts and synergies between sectors under future predicted scenarios and the central locations of such conflicts/synergies using expert consultation. Map viewers containing spatialized data are essential tools for visualizing possible scenarios in ocean management. Using online databases three different maps were published in Seasketch, representing each scenario. This tool can offer a basis for more solid decision making, based on the strategy that one intends to adopt for the future. In conclusion, this project provides relevant input for managing oceans and coasts and for maritime/marine spatial planning for countries bordering the North Atlantic and provides a new baseline for better and more integrated approaches for the North Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

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

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How can "business-as-usual", "nature at work" and "business-development" scenarios, combined with Strategic Environmental assessments, assess conflicts and synergies between sectors?

Implementation Context:

The marine and seabed between Europe and North America are increasingly within national jurisdictions. States are now recognising the need for a governance framework that applies a more integrated approach to maritime policy. Hence, there is a need for tools and information for defining the precise MSP steps to a coherent and efficient MSP.

Aspects / Objectives:

This project for the Azores presents fresh information for defining some MSP steps, coherent and adapted to protecting the most sensitive marine ecosystems and accomplishing the goals of Directive 2014/89/EU, thereby establishing a framework for MSP.

Main Outputs / Results:

This study provides relevant input for managing oceans and coasts and for MSP for countries bordering the North Atlantic and provides a new baseline for better and more integrated legislative approaches for the North Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

Transferability:

This approach is replicable in other sea basins should necessary data be available.

Responsible Entity:

University of the Azores

Costs / Funding Source:

University of Azores

Contact person:

Helena Calado - helena.mg.caladoatuac.pt