Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an important aspect of the current European, UK and Scottish environmental agenda. The European Commission's recently published draft directive to create a common framework for MSP and integrated coastal management in EU waters and coastal areas is an indication that the sustainable management of marine and coastal waters is a pressing issue. The development of the Shetland Islands' Marine Spatial Plan (SMSP) was initiated by the Scottish Government in 2006 and is an example of a progressive regional marine spatial plan. The SMSP has successfully provided a policy framework and baseline spatial data to guide the placement of marine developments. Through policy, it provides suggestions, proposes directions and highlights opportunity for development. A model which maps cumulative pressures around the Shetland Islands, based on an ecosystem-based risk assessment and extensive knowledge of existing marine activities and uses, is the next step in identifying areas for action and marine policy formulation. This model may be used in comparable marine plan regions with access to comprehensive mapped activity data and local expertise to develop their own methodologies in addressing cumulative impacts. This research also aligns with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive which requires an analysis of the predominant pressures and impacts, including human activity, on the environmental status of marine waters which inter alia covers the main cumulative and synergetic effects.
Bibliographical noteThe authors wish to thank the SMSP Advisory Group members and NAFC Marine Centre staff for their time and advice, in particular, Dr. Richard Shelmerdine for his GIS expertise. We also thank the following organisations for their financial contribution towards the funding of the original SMSP under SSMEI: Scottish Government, NAFC Marine Centre, Scottish Natural Heritage, Shetland Islands Council, The Crown Estate and Leader. We also extend our thanks and gratitude to Marine Scotland for their continuing funding towards this project and the SMSP. Finally, we thank the Editor-in-Chief and the two anonymous reviewers for improving this manuscript.
- Marine spatial planning
- Cumulative impacts
- Ecosystem approach