Aquaculture in Greece. Alex Antoniadis | Unsplash

Climate-ready spatial management of UK marine habitats and resources

Aquaculture in Greece. Alex Antoniadis | Unsplash 

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and partners have been successful in securing funding to help investigate how to safeguard the future of the marine and coastal economy whilst also protecting marine ecosystems overall.

Involving 17 partner organisations and led by PML’s Dr Ana Queiros, the project ‘Marine Spatial Planning Addressing Climate Effects (MSPACE)’ will drive forward the capability of the four UK nations in designing and implementing climate-smart marine spatial plans (MSP).

A distinctive aspect of MSPACE is that it is underpinned by a vast catalogue of state-of-the-art marine climate change modelling projections for the environment, species and habitats, uniquely available to this consortium through existing expertise and partnerships. This is supported by along world-leading modelling spatial meta-analysis expertise and methods.

MSPACE will also capitalise on key partnerships with the UK policy and industry communities, with whom knowledge and information will be shared on the vulnerabilities and opportunities that climate change presents to the near-term spatial management of the fisheries, aquaculture and marine conservation sectors across the UK Exclusive Economic Zone.

The project was funded through a five-year research programme called the Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources and is supported by the Strategic Priorities Fund, which aims to increase high-quality multi and inter-disciplinary research and innovation. Funding for the projects came from two UKRI research councils, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Marine Scotland.

Dr Ana Queiros, project lead and Marine & Climate Change Ecologist at PML, commented: “Climate change threatens the UK nation’s blue economy, dependent industries and the preservation of unique marine species and habitats. Climate-resilient marine plans are opportunities for each nation to design adaptive marine management to limit its impacts and help achieve net-zero. Crucial to this delivery are social acceptance and the economic viability of plans, unique to the context of each nation, their regions and the maritime sectors they are investing in. The MSPACE consortium will deliver on these goals, bringing together world-leading expertise in climate modelling analyses, social and economic research, in a project co-developed with UK’s industry and policy communities.”

MSPACE is a highly integrated, multidisciplinary project, co-developed between PML, University of Essex, University of Bradford, Heriot-Watt University, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Marine Scotland (Science), The Marine Biological Association, Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, Marine Management Organisation, Natural Resources Wales, The Seaweed Alliance, National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association, Ørsted and Aquamaps.

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