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MSPACE: Marine Spatial Planning Addressing Climate Effects

Aerial view of Mount Batten, Plymouth

Active project

Project start: August 2021  |  Project end: July 2024
Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Principal Investigator: Dr Ana M Queirós
Other participants from PML: Dr Liz Talbot, Dr Océane Marcone, Dr Paul J. Somerfield, Dr Ruth Calder-Potts, Dr Sevrine Sailley, Dr Susan Kay, Dr Robert Wilson
MSPACE is a 3 year project designed to drive forward the capability of the four UK nations in designing and implementing climate-smart marine spatial plans.
MSPACE logo with icon depicting fish, wind turbines, stars and seaweed

Led by PML and funded through the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) via the research programme Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources (SMMR), this project involves a wide range of partners bringing unique skills and expertise together to help manage sustainably the UK’s marine environment in a changing climate.

The highly integrated, multidisciplinary MSPACE project was 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, 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.

Image showing all of the partner logos Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a public process through which all activities that take place in the marine environment are documented, including those related to sectors such as shipping, ports, fisheries, aquaculture.

By understanding the activities, priorities can then be established for how conflicts between these sectors are managed, for example, in a specific area we might want to prioritise conservation goals over other goals, and the reverse in another. It is also a process by which we can establish how much we want to invest in initiatives such as protected areas, carbon sequestration and renewable energy infrastructure in an area. MSP is therefore a really important process in the delivery of the UK’s economic and environmental sustainability goals.

A key challenge to the delivery of these goals is climate change, which is redistributing marine and coastal biodiversity, including both the species we wish to protect and those we want to harvest. In the UK and internationally, MSP is focused on how sectors and their activities are distributed at present but with an ever changing environment these detailed management plans could become ineffective or even more damaging as climate change unfolds, leading to unsustainable uses of the marine environment and its resources.

MSPACE is addressing this challenge by supporting the UK nations in the development and implementation of ‘Climate-Smart MSP’.

Image showing a diagram of the various work packages that make up the project