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“And DPSIR begat DAPSI(W)R(M)!” - A unifying framework for marine environmental management

Elliott, M.; Burdon, D.; Atkins, J.P.; Borja, A.; Cormier, R.; de Jonge, V.N.; Turner, R.K.


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Professor Mike Elliott
Emeritus Professor of Estuarine and Coastal Sciences/ Research Professor, Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies

D. Burdon

A. Borja

R. Cormier

V.N. de Jonge

R.K. Turner


The marine environment is a complex system formed by interactions between ecological structure and functioning, physico-chemical processes and socio-economic systems. An increase in competing marine uses and users requires a holistic approach to marine management which considers the environmental, economic and societal impacts of all activities. If managed sustainably, the marine environment will deliver a range of ecosystem services which lead to benefits for society. In order to understand the complexity of the system, the DPSIR (Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) approach has long been a valuable problem-structuring framework used to assess the causes, consequences and responses to change in a holistic way. Despite DPSIR being used for a long time, there is still confusion over the definition of its terms and so to be appropriate for current marine management, we contend that this confusion needs to be addressed. Our viewpoint advocates that DPSIR should be extended to DAPSI(W)R(M) (pronounced dap-see-worm) in which Drivers of basic human needs require Activities which lead to Pressures. The Pressures are the mechanisms of State change on the natural system which then leads to Impacts (on human Welfare). Those then require Responses (as Measures). Furthermore, because of the complexity of any managed sea area in terms of multiple Activities, there is the need for a linked-DAPSI(W)R(M) framework, and then the connectivity between marine ecosystems and ecosystems in the catchment and further at sea, requires an interlinked, nested-DAPSI(W)R(M) framework to reflect the continuum between adjacent ecosystems. Finally, the unifying framework for integrated marine management is completed by encompassing ecosystem structure and functioning, ecosystem services and societal benefits. Hence, DAPSI(W)R(M) links the socio-ecological system of the effects of changes to the natural system on the human uses and benefits of the marine system. However, to deliver these sustainably in the light of human activities requires a Risk Assessment and Risk Management framework; the ISO-compliant Bow-Tie method is used here as an example. Finally, to secure ecosystem health and economic benefits such as Blue Growth, successful, adaptive and sustainable marine management Responses (as Measures) are delivered using the 10-tenets, a set of facets covering all management disciplines and approaches.


Elliott, M., Burdon, D., Atkins, J., Borja, A., Cormier, R., de Jonge, V., & Turner, R. (2017). “And DPSIR begat DAPSI(W)R(M)!” - A unifying framework for marine environmental management. Marine pollution bulletin, 118(1-2), 27-40.

Online Publication Date Apr 7, 2017
Publication Date May 15, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 22, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 22, 2017
Journal Marine pollution bulletin
Print ISSN 0025-326X
Electronic ISSN 1879-3363
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 118
Issue 1-2
Pages 27-40
Keywords Integrated management, Ecosystem services, Societal benefits, Bow-Tie approach, 10-tenets, Blue growth
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a copy of an open access article published in Marine pollution bulletin, 2017, v.118 issues 1-2.


Published article.pdf (2.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

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