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Using best expert judgement to harmonise marine environmental status assessment and maritime spatial planning

Elliott, Michael; Boyes, Suzanne J.; Barnard, Stephen; Borja, Ángel


Michael Elliott

Suzanne J. Boyes

Stephen Barnard

Ángel Borja


© 2018 Elsevier Ltd All maritime states have the challenge of maintaining the environmental quality of their seas while at the same time maximising their economic potential thus requiring appropriate science, governance and management measures. In Europe, directives and regulations are used to address the pressures affecting the health and sustainability of marine resources, and to promote Good Environmental Status (GES) (e.g. the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, MSFD), while having a coherent and integrated pattern of sea use (e.g. the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, MSPD). Therefore, an approach is required to meet these challenges for all maritime states including, for Europe, the joint adoption of these two directives. As such an approach does not yet exist, one is proposed here based on a hypothetical example and a Best Expert Judgement (BEJ) methodology. Forty-two marine science, management and impact assessment specialists provided views on a hypothetical marine scenario to derive and interrogate a framework applicable to marine areas with multiple uses and users. The scenario allowed the severity of the activity effects-footprints to be determined on the 11 MSFD Descriptors of GES with that severity being weighted according to the area of each activity effect-footprint. In turn, this allowed the calculation of marine regional environmental status thereby indicating whether the adoption of quality assessment and spatial planning can be mutually beneficial, or are antagonistic in meeting environmental targets. This paper uses the proposed approach to discuss maximising the assimilative capacity of a marine area and minimising the environmental degradation due to new activities. It especially shows the role of BEJ in cases where marine adaptive management is still required despite their being an often paucity of information or data on which to base management decisions.


Elliott, M., Boyes, S. J., Barnard, S., & Borja, Á. (2018). Using best expert judgement to harmonise marine environmental status assessment and maritime spatial planning. Marine pollution bulletin, 133, 367-377.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 15, 2018
Online Publication Date Jun 19, 2022
Publication Date 2018-08
Deposit Date Jun 1, 2022
Journal Marine Pollution Bulletin
Print ISSN 0025-326X
Electronic ISSN 1879-3363
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 133
Pages 367-377
Keywords Best expert judgement; Assimilative capacity; Activity effects-footprints; MSFD; MSP directive; Good environmental status (GES)
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