MARIne Spatial Conservation planning in the Aegean sea – MARISCA

MARIne Spatial Conservation planning in the Aegean sea – MARISCA


Status: complete

Categorization: ICZM

Country: Greece

Period: 01.12.2015 / 31.12.2016

Contact info

Name: Stelios Katsanevakis

Organization: University of the Aegean (Dep of Marine Sciences)




Summary description: MARISCA is a project co-funded by the European Environmental Area Financial Mechanism, (EEA FM 2009-2014), and by the Public Investments Programme (PIP) under the theme «Integrated Marine and Inland Water Management», “Increased knowledge concerning the integrated marine and islands policy or the protection / management of coastal areas” that took place from 01/12/2015 to 31/12/2016 with a budget of EUR 390.000. Composed by 3 partners (University of the Aegean, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) and the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) from 2 countries (Greece and Norway), MARISCA aimed to improve the protection and conservation of biodiversity in the context of an integrated Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) in the Aegean Sea. Hence, MARISCA delivered a number of maps charting biodiversity and various types of human activity in the Aegean, including distinct types of touristic offers, thereby facilitating the formation of maritime spatial plans. By juxtaposing MARISCA biodiversity and touristic activity maps, it is possible to analyse how various types of touristic activity (e.g. marinas, diving centres, hotels) affect distinct types of fauna and flora (from porifera to cetacea). The ultimate aim was to propose a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and protection zones for the conservation of all important and threatened habitats and species, as defined by national and community legislation and international agreements.

Type: project

EU Challenges for sustainable tourism: (i) preserving and giving value to natural and cultural heritage and diversity, (ii) minimising resource use and production of waste, (iii) enhancing local community prosperity and quality of life, (iv) reducing the seasonality of demand, (v) limiting the environmental impact of tourism-related transport

EU Principles: (i) taking a holistic and integrated approach (economic, social and environmental aspects), (ii) planning for the long term

Reason of interest for COASTING: MARISCA provides a model for the mapping of biodiversity in Greek coastal areas alongside human activities that affect it (e.g. touristic activities). MARISCA outputs can be used as an example of how to systematise data about biodiversity & human activities such as tourism in the coastal zone. It can be used as a good practice for mapping biodiversity & human activities that forms the basis of a common methodology for ICZM-MSP and is a prerequisite for implementing the mainstreamed Bay Contract.

Financial information

Budget: 390.00 €

Financial sources: 85% -Funded by the European Environmental Area Financial Mechanism, (EEA FM 2009-2014) (EU funding) 15% - Funded by the Public Investments Programme (PIP) of Greece (national funding)

Background information

Territorial context: Tourism is a main contributor to the growth of Greek economy. Demand for Greece has been growing steadily since 2012 and it has four features: 1. 35% of the bulk originates from 4 EU countries and most of it from EU 2. Most of it is deployed in only five destinations 3. It is particularly seasonal with a 3 month period (summer) amounting for the bulk of demand. 4. The average stay is systematically dropping, but with daily receipts remaining robust. 5. Supply is deployed along three dimensions; geography, star rating and hotel unit size. 6. The prospects of Greek tourism are good: arrivals are increasing, the length of stay is not declining fast, average daily spending is constant, the number of significant tourist origins is going up. 7. Key challenges for Greek tourism is the fact that arrivals remain peaky, daily spending is modest by international standards and the same legacy destinations attract most of the demand. 8. Hotels in Greece are in general internationally competitive.

Relation to policies and strategies: Directive 2014/89 / EU of the European Parliament and the EU Council establishing a framework for Maritime Spatial Planning: Each Member State must establish and implement maritime spatial planning, taking into account economic, social and environmental aspects for supporting and promoting sustainable development at sea by implementing an ecosystem approach. MARISCA will provide a good basis for the national development plan in the Aegean, which is to be based on this Directive.

Regulation framework: N/A

Specific information

Objectives: MARISCA’s main objective is to contribute towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity in the context of an integrated Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) in the Aegean Sea, taking full account of human activities in coastal areas that might affect it, such as touristic development, fisheries and marine transportation. In addition to this, MARISCA aimed to achieve the following: - Establishment of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and protection zones for the conservation of all important and vulnerable habitats and species, as defined by national and community legislation and international agreements. - Mapping ecological features and biodiversity in the Aegean Sea. - Analyzing and mapping human activities, such as touristic development, and pressures and estimating cumulative impacts of human activities in areas of high interest and of existing spatial management measures. - Valuating marine ecosystems in the framework of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)

Developers (and governance): The MARISCA consortium includes the following: • University of the Aegean, Department of Marine Sciences: The University conducts research in fields akin to marine ecosystem health, and ICZM-MSP. • The Hellenic Centre for Marine Research: HCMR conducts scientific and technological research related to the study and protection of the hydrosphere. • The Institute for Marine Research: Norway's largest centre of marine science, responsible for the MAREANO program which is the basis for MSP in Norway.

Beneficiaries: MARISCA’s beneficiaries are: 1. Local/ regional authorities and policy developers benefit from access to resources that allow for the easy assessment of the uses of the maritime environment in the Aegean and facilitate MSP 2. Tourism stakeholders benefit from access to resources and methodologies for MSP that can help minimize natural heritage degradation due to tourism 3. Tourists and the next generations benefit from having access to maritime natural heritage that is not degraded due to tourism

Innovation aspects: MARISCA is the first sea-floor mapping project and integrated landscape planning project to be applied in the Aegean. Sea floor mapping was made possible via the utilisation of all cutting-edge available technologies such as drones, side scan sonars, ROV & Drop Cameras, UW visual surveys. In addition, MARISCA combined the sea-floor mapping approach with a complete evaluation of economic activities in the Aegean, including specific indicators for estimating the impact of human activities.

Actions: MARISCA’s key actions are: • Analysis of existing information on biodiversity. • Data collection for the validation of cross-checking of low reliability data, for the verification of results from spatial distribution models and for ground – truthing of remote sense analysis. • Data collection for the distribution of human activities in the Aegean. • Estimation of the impact of human activities on biodiversity. • Design of a network of marine protected areas using the “Marxan with zones” software.

Stakeholders involvement: MARISCA involved stakeholders in the following ways: • During the data collection process, research and environmental management organisations (universities, NGOs, NATURA areas’ managing authorities) contributed with all available published or unpublished data. • Public Administrations, responsible for the implementation of Directives 92/43/EEC, 2009/147/EC, 2008/56/EC and 2014/89/EC, and related stakeholders were approached to provide feedback on the congruence of MARISCA results with the implementation of European Directives and with good international practices. • Stakeholders were approached through communication and dissemination activities (conferences, website & social media platforms, conferences, information booklets) to promote project outcomes.

Results achieved: By preparing maps, MARISCA helped develop an all-encompassing view of economic activity in the Aegean and its impact on biodiversity. For tourism, policy developers and stakeholders can juxtapose the maps of biodiversity and touristic activities and, after consulting the deliverables ‘D4.1: Assessment of the value of basic goods and services of Aegean ecosystems’ & ‘D4.2: Assessment of the cost of their degradation’, make new plans for touristic development that tackle negative tourism effects.

Potential for learning and transfer

Challenges and obstacles: The key problems faced by the team carrying out the MARISCA project were the following: • The concepts of ICZM-MSP and, in general, integrated planning was something entirely unfamiliar to Greek public administration and stakeholders, who—at the time but frequently also today—abided by a sectorial perspective to sustainable development. • There was no legislation advocating the adoption of ICZM-MSP practices in Greece.

Success factors: • MARISCA initiated MSP in the Aegean by not only analyzing and mapping current biodiversity and human activity patterns, but also by considering potential future uses of the study area, such as mining for oil or raw materials, installation of offshore wind energy turbines, changes in the intensity of tourism. • MARISCA utilized innovative software that has already been used and tested with success in other areas, including the Mediterranean (Israel).

Transferability in COASTING project: • Governance of coastal and maritime areas can be effective only if it is grounded on multiple types of data and innovative assessment methods capable of estimating the impact of touristic or other activities on the environment. MARISCA with its innovative sea-floor mapping and integrated landscape planning methodology can be used as the basis for ICZM-MSP in the context of the mainstreamed COASTING Bay Contract. • The utilisation of all cutting-edge available technologies such as innovative software drones, side scan sonars, ROV & Drop Cameras, UW visual surveys, allows for an improved evaluation of touristic impacts on the environment. Hence, these tools and methods can lead to an enhanced planning of tourism activities in coastal zones. • Considering the future uses of the study area, such as changes in patterns of touristic development, is another key MARISCA aspect that can be transferred to COASTING practices.