The UK Government Review of Marine Nature Conservation set up the Irish Sea Pilot project in 2002 to test the potential for an ecosystem approach to managing the marine environment at a regional sea scale. The area of the Irish Sea is about 58,000 km2.
The objectives of the Irish Sea pilot project were to:
- test ways of integrating nature conservation into key sectors to make an effective contribution to sustainable development on a regional basis;
- test the framework proposed by the paper “An implementation framework for the conservation, protection and management of nationally important marine wildlife in the UK“;
- determine the potential of existing regulatory and other systems for delivering effective marine nature conservation and identify any gaps; and
- recommend measures to fill the gaps identified.
The Irish Sea area was selected for the Pilot because it was considered to be one of the most ecologically-distinct regional seas around the UK. With its semi-enclosed geography and range of stakeholders and activities, it is perhaps the most recognizable and distinct of the regional seas.
Defra provided about £400,000 to finance the project through the 21 months until its completion. Another 70,000 were contributed by other sources.
The project was one of the first to suggest MSP as a means to achieve ecosystem-based management of marine places. Some of its recommendations with respect to MSP applied to the EEZ include:
- the introduction of marine spatial planning as a statutory process involving national planning guidelines, strategic plans at regional sea level and more detailed local plans;
- marine spatial planning should cover development and other sectoral activities both current and proposed;
- marine spatial planning should adopt an ecosystem approach and seek to implement conservation and other sustainable development objectives;
- placing duties on public bodies to carry out their functions in accordance with the principles of sustainable development and to further the achievement of the conservation objectives included in the plans; and
- consensus should be built internationally to develop effective planning and management policies at the regional sea scale.
|The Irish Sea Pilot Project Report|
|The Irish Sea Marine Spatial Planning Report (PDF)|