Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning in the Balearic Islands

About the Research Topic

Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has become a priority topic for the European Commission and established scientific groups such as the International Council on the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). MSP may be defined as a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that area usually specified through a political process (IOC-UNESCO 2009).

Special Area Management Plans (SAMPs), which gained recognition through the USA Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, may be defined as resource management plans and implementation programmes developed to improve the management of a discreet geographic area. SAMPs are generally developed as supplements to existing management programmes, where established policies may not be adequate in addressing sustainability challenges, or to address complex multi-jurisdictional coastal issues (NOAA Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management). 

The development of SAMPs through the application of a combined MSP - ICZM approach (i.e. Integrated Coastal and Marine Management) is a priority research area for the SIAS Division. Following established guidelines such as those developed by UNESCO and the EC, this research area emphasizes: (1) participation of civil society and decision-makers, (2) improved integration of science and decision-making, (3) making best use of available data, and (4) interdisciplinarity (i.e. integrating data from the natural, physical, and social sciences). 

To date, the team’s research in this area, which will be expanded to address emerging local and international priorities, is focused on the development of SAMPs using the Bay of Palma in Mallorca as a pilot area and on the development of tools and methodologies to assess and manage recreational boating in the Balearic Islands