Uncharted waters: how maps can help prevent conflict over marine resources

Euro News. –

An ambitious project to improve the management of marine resources across regional and international borders is underway in Europe and all over the world.

So-called Maritime Spatial Planning is designed to help governments and stakeholders alike decide what is best for their coastlines, boosting the marine economy while preserving the coastal ecosystems for generations to come.

The Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands are all benefiting from the EU-funded “MarSP” project, which is helping the islands with their planning.

Luz Paramio, Member of Azores regional government’s FRCT executive board and MarSP project coordinator, explains:

“There are new uses that are appearing from the combination of various activities that can interact and share the same space in a sustainable way. And the maritime spatial planning allows us to make these marine activities compatible.”

At the University of the Azores, planners combine survey responses from those who use the sea with existing data on marine resources and habitats in a geographic information system, or GIS.

Helena Calado, Professor of Maritime Spatial Planning, said all maritime industries have been involved.

“We’ve asked them please draw the polygon where you practise your activity, what are the other activities that you are in conflict with and why. Then we take this information and we input it into a GIS system to support decision-making.”

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