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Interactions between uses, between uses and environment, including cumulative impacts


SIMNORAT & SIMWESTMED conducted the review and comparison of cumulative impact assessment tools across the countries included in the project. The development and application of these tools has so far been mainly short-term and project-based with limited application in a statutory MSP process. Thus, their use as a source of evidence base in MSP is considered to be an ongoing question. 

These two projects bring together partners —research organizations, marine planning authorities and marine management bodies —from France, Spain, Italy, Malta and Portugal which are officially mandated to carry out or support national MSP processes in the countries of the project. Therefore, these reports aim to highlight the similarities and differences between the cumulative impact assessment tools used in these countries, and thus, encourage a more coherent approach to MSP. They provide several recommendations on how to improve the collaboration and the development of a transboundary vision with regard to cumulative impact assessment.

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


  • Which cumulative impacts assessment tools are available across the EU?
  • What are the main differences and similarities between the cumulative impact assessment tools developed in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Malta and France?


These two papers have been developed under the SIMNORAT and SIMWESTMED projects. Outputs are targeted towards MSP practitioners throughsharing of best practicesand effective transboundary collaboration for MSP. 


The methodology used to develop the report was based on the desk research and sporadic consultations with authors of papers and reports. A common methodology was developed for both projects, SIMNORAT and SIMWESTMED, to compare the tools. As a first step, all project partners defined a common list of 10 criteria for the comparison. These 10 criteria were then used to describe each tool in a form of a fiche. All fiches were than used for the comparison which was shared with all the partners for validation, inputs and remarks. 

The comparison was based on 10 criteria: 

Topic 1: Data (activities, pressures and ecological)
Topic 2: Data / Accessibility 
Topic 3: Processes / Scale 
Topic 4: Processes 
Topic 5: Processes / Uncertainty 
Topic 6: Processes / Flexibility 
Topic 7: Transparency 
Topic 8: Outputs 
Topic 9: Outputs / Implementation 
Topic 10: Accessibility and Sustainability

Figure 1 Summary of activities and pressures considered in the tools


Two reports were produced to present the comparison analysis, one in each project. While the reports have quite similar content, they do not encompass exactly the same list of tools. The both reports starts by providing an overview of tools and approaches used across the EU and highlight the example of the Intersessional Correspondence Group on Cumulative Effects (ICG-CE) in the OSPAR convention, which has the objective to prepare the use of CEA for the next Quality Status Report of 2021. The projects present a comparison overview of the three main methods used in Europe: HARMONY, CUMULEO and ODEMM.

Figure 2. Steps of calculation and main results in each of the 3 methods (HARMONY/ODEMM/CUMULEO)

These three methods are based on a common set of relationships between data: 

  • Identification of activities and pressures links,
  • Identification of pressures and ecosystems compartments links,
  • Evaluation of exposure of ecosystems compartments to pressures, 
  • Evaluation of sensitivity of ecosystems compartments to pressures. 

Both reports provide detailed comparison of the tools developed in project countries (developed by the projectspartner institutions).  For example, most of the compared tools are characterised as very data demanding, but different in terms of quantity or quality of data. This better understanding of differences between these tools and approaches is meant to contribute to a more coherent MSP processes in the project area.

Figure 3. Summary of the existing tools developed by SIMNORAT project partners’ institutions

Figure 4. Summary of the existing tools developed by SIMWESTMED project partners’ institutions

The comparison of the tools has led to several recommendations with regard to the improvement of collaboration in the area and the development of a transboundary vision of cumulative impact assessment:

  • New topics of studies such as mobiles species, or pelagic habitat and plankton. 
  • Improve the linkages between tools by working on a detailed and common list of activities and pressures, or on a common reference and geodetic system between the tools. 
  • Consolidate the developments of the tools (by consolidating funding and the teams) in order to assess the most globally cumulative effects. 
  • Open the access to data, either activities data (in possession of administrations and economic sectors mostly) or environmental data (in possession of administrations, scientists and environmental consultancy firms).

The reports also highlight that the application of reviewed cumulative impact tools usually results in a form of maps, while some tools may provide additional graphics and explanation to complete the diagnosis. The reports further emphasizes the importance of involvement of stakeholders and planners in the design stages, and effective communication of results to encourage their uptake in the decision-making processes.

Figure 5. Cumulative maps produced with (a) AFB tools, (b) CEREMA tool, (c) SHOM tool, (e) UAVR tool.


This methodology could be applied to other sea basins. The results of this study are however specific to this sea basin.


Agence Française pour la Biodiversité (AFB), France 
Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine (SHOM), France 
Centre d'études et d'expertise sur les risques, l'environnement, la mobilité et l'aménagement (CEREMA), France 
Universidade de Aveiro (UAVR), Portugal 
Centro de Estudios y Experimentación de Obras Públicas (CEDEX), Spain 
Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), Spain 
École nationale supérieure Mines-Télécom Atlantique Bretagne Pays de la Loire (IMT Atlantique), France
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Istituto di Scienze Marine (CNR ISMAR), Italy 
University Iuav of Venice 


SIMNORAT and SIMWESTMED projects were co-funded by the EC – DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE)


Antonin Gimard

Agence Française pour la Biodiversité (AFB), France