09 November 2018
By Dr Matt Fortnam, University of Exeter

Marine planning is not an easy task. It requires juggling the many, often competing demands of people while making sure the environment these people depend on is not undermined. Any decision made is likely to involve prioritising some uses and users of the marine environment over others.  Any policy or project that alters marine ecosystems and the benefits it provides human, or alters who can access these benefits, is likely to result in some people or sectors winning while others losing out. It’s hard if not impossible to make everyone happy.  

Marine policies and management strategies often fail to consider such trade-offs and, instead, focus on win-win opportunities that key people support and therefore do not block its implementation. Unfortunately, experience has shown that such win-win opportunities are rare. Trade-offs between different groups of people are almost always made, often without realising it, since those that lose out are typically the least able to influence the decisions that create the trade-off. Marine planning therefore requires tools that can reveal trade-offs so that decisions can be fairer and more effective.

Project 9 of GCRF Blue Communities will design trade-off analysis tools to improve marine planning in UNESCO Man and Biopshere Reserves and marine parks in Southeast Asia. The actual or potential trade-offs arising from future marine development scenarios and management plans in several locations in the Philippines and Malaysia will be investigated with stakeholders. Data from other Blue Communities activities will feed into participatory workshops, with the aim to design approaches that help decision-makers make the hard political and ethical decisions when doing marine planning. Work on project 9 is beginning shortly.
Project 9: Principles and approaches to decision making
Project lead: Dr Louisa Evans (University of Exeter), Dr Tom Chaigneau (University of Exeter)
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