Marine Atlas: Maximizing Benefits for Vanuatu


In an increasingly crowded seascape, MSP helps avoid conflict and maximize benefit between overlapping uses.

Marine Spatial planning Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is an inter- sectoral and participatory planning process and tool that seeks to balance ecological, economic, and social objectives, aiming for sustainable marine resource use and prosperous blue economies. Marine Spatial Planning (see text box) holds the key to sharing marine uses fairly, and one of the key tools used to implement MSP is a zoning plan. This is a tool that divides the ocean into zones, where each zone includes different activities that are or are not permitted. The main purpose of a zoning plan (Ehler and Dou- vere, 2009) is to: • separate conflicting human activities or to com- bine compatible human activities • protect the natural values of the marine man- agement area while allowing reasonable human uses of the area • allocate areas for reasonable human uses while minimizing the effects of these human uses on each other and nature • provide protection for biologically and eco- logically important habitats, ecosystems, and ecological processes and • preserve some areas of the marine managed area in their natural state, undisturbed by humans except for scientific or educational purposes There is no need to reinvent the wheel, as zoning of Vanuatu’s waters is not a new concept and there are already a large number of different types of zones—although they may not be called zones. These include shipping lanes, IMO regulations regarding pollution at sea (see also chapter “One world, one ocean”), fisheries closures, and marine protected or managed areas, including LMMAs (see also chapter “Space to recover”). Each of these different zones stipulate different areas within which particular activities are permitted or not permitted. In the past, however, these zones have been largely designated within single sectors, with little consideration of other human uses in the same The six map close-ups on vessel traffic (see also chapter “Full speed ahead”), mining (see also chapter “Underwater Wild West”), fisheries (see also chapter “Fishing in the dark”) and manage- ment (see also chapter “Space to recover”) show snapshots of the many marine uses detailed in the previous chapters. On its own, each looks manageable. However, zooming out and looking at the big picture of all uses, it is clear that many overlap. Some of these may be complementary, such as conservation and tourism, while other uses impact each other and may lead to conflicts, such as pollution from shipping in an important fishery, or deep-sea mining on a biologically diverse seamount. How can Vanuatu address these conflicts?

area. Instead, a zoning plan that is derived through comprehensive MSP process takes into account how human uses impact each other and the envi- ronment. MSP can occur at a site level (such as a bay), across an entire marine managed area, within an EEZ, or between neighbouring countries (trans- boundary). It should aim to achieve clear ecologi- cal, economic and social goals and objectives. Each marine zone should have an assigned ob- jective that permits a range of activities to occur, provided that each activity complies with the relevant zone objective. All zones should con- tribute to the overall goals and objectives of the Marine Spatial Plan. For example, if the objective of a zone is to protect the sea-floor habitat, then activities such as trawling, mining or dredging should not be permitted, while other zones where the objective is to allow for a broad range of industrial uses may allow industrial tuna, shipping or even mining to occur. Preparing a zoning plan is not an easy task, and is best achieved through considerable consultation, including across government departments at all levels, users, other stakeholders and the commu- nity. Zoning plans must accommodate and bal- ance the cultural, economic, social and biological needs of the community. MPAs are primarily established to meet biodiver- sity objectives, but can also have sociocultural and economic objectives that are consistent with national, regional and local needs. To meet these different objectives, MPAs can contain one or more zones to provide for different levels of protection. The IUCN Protected Area Categories classify pro- tected areas according to their management ob- jectives. The categories are recognized by interna- tional bodies, such as the United Nations, and by many national governments as the global standard for defining and recording protected areas, and as such are increasingly being incorporated into government legislation.

However, the process of aligning standardized cat- egories to individual MPAs is not an easy one and not without a degree of controversy. For example, protected areas that are culturally appropriate for Vanuatu may not always fit neatly into any one of the seven IUCN categories. If they are to be applied effectively, therefore, any categories used by a nation must be interpreted and adapted to meet the country’s biophysical, sociocultural and economic needs. This is a very promising way to share and manage Vanuatu’s rich and complex marine environment in a fair and sustainable manner, while maximizing benefits.




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