Marine protected areas – benefit or challenge?

Plymouth Marine Laboratory believes that MPAs and other spatial protection measures provide benefits to the blue economy Plymouth Marine Laboratory believes that MPAs and other spatial protection measures provide benefits to the blue economy

A commonly held concern about Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is that they may constrain the blue economy as it continues to grow, especially as their designation looks set to increase.

MPAs are recognised as a key tool for marine conservation and already cover significant parts of some sea basins around Europe. But because MPAs are set to increase, the competition for marine space across Europe is growing.

The ‘blue economy’ is expected to play a significant role within the central EU policy of promoting jobs and growth so Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in the UK is carrying out a survey to find out how MPAs and other spatial protection measures can provide benefits to the blue economy.

The survey’s aim is to ensure that the planning and management of MPAs can be taken forward to maximise benefits – for the marine environment, to the blue economy and society more generally.

PML said that the linkages between maritime sectors and the potential benefits of MPAs need to be better understood. There is a need to integrate these linkages into decisions surrounding the management of MPAs.

It wants to examine what these economic benefits are and how they are gained and it’s also interested in the role of MPA governance in conflict management, the creation of win-win situations between multiple users and the sustainable use of MPAs.

PML wants to hear from MPA managers or anyone who works in blue economy sectors to include fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and recreation, energy, shipping transport, seaports and marinas, blue biotechnology, seabed aggregates and other mining, dredging and offshore construction.

The survey can be accessed directly at

For more information on the survey and its outcomes, please contact Dr Caroline Hattam or Dr Stefanie Broszeit

The survey is part of research being conducted by ICF, PML and IEEP under contract to the European Commission.

By Anne-Marie Causer

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