A Sustainable Blue Economy – Adopting the concept of ecosystem services in EU marine protected area

The use of marine space and resources in Europe is growing and rapidly becoming more and more complex. Under the umbrella of the ‘Blue Economy’, the EU and other institutions and stakeholders are trying to find ways to ensure that the economic growth potential of European seas can be realised without further degrading the quality and resilience of the marine environment.

This report explores how the concept of ecosystem services can be used in the management of marine protected areas (MPA) to support the achievement of EU marine and coastal conservation objectives, while at the same time contributing to the development of a sustainable European Blue Economy. The results are based on survey responses from 50 marine conservation experts across Europe, representing governments, competent authorities, academia, NGOs, business and individuals.

The report concludes that ecosystem services are not commonly used in MPA planning, management or monitoring in Europe. However, most respondents believe that doing so could help to ensure a greener blue economic model, for instance by supporting stakeholder dialogues throughout the MPA designation process and realising synergies in the implementation of existing marine conservation policies and legislation. The report also presents a number of policy instruments which respondents consider to be particularly important to enable future use of the ecosystem service concept, including, for instance, systematic integration of ecosystem services into management plans for marine Natura 2000 sites.

The report was produced as part of the European research project Operational Potential of Ecosystem Research Applications (OPERAs), funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme. For more information, please contact Mia Pantzar and Marianne Kettunen.

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