Ecosystem-based marine spatial management: review of concepts, policies, tools and critical issues

S. Katsanevakis, V. Stelzenmueller, A. South, L.J.W. van Hoof, R. ter Hofstede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

327 Citations (Scopus)


Conventional sectoral management and piecemeal governance are considered less and less appropriate in pursuit of sustainable development. Ecosystem based marine spatial management (EB-MSM) is an approach that recognizes the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including human uses, rather than considering single issues, species, or ecosystem services in isolation. Marine spatial planning and ocean zoning are emerging concepts that can support EB-MSM. EB-MSM is driven by high-level goals that managers aim to achieve through the implementation of measures. High-level goals and objectives need to be translated into more operational objectives before specific targets, limits and measures can be elaborated. Monitoring, evaluation and adaptation are necessary to ensure that marine management measures are both effective and efficient. Solid monitoring frameworks are the foundation of adaptive management, as they provide the necessary information to evaluate performance and the effectiveness of management actions. Marine protected areas (MPAs) - possibly set up in networks - constitute a key component in EB-MSM policies and practises and have been applied as a cornerstone in conservation of marine biodiversity, management of fish populations, development of coastal tourism, etc. Moreover, MPA experiences have provided methods and concepts (such as zoning) to a wider EB-MSM context. The assignment of values to biophysical features of the marine environment allows the direct assessment of related management choices and may assist EB-MSM. A range of monetary valuation techniques have been proposed to reduce attributes of goods and services to a single metric. However, in the marine environment such an approach is often over simplistic, and thus less reductive techniques may be necessary. Rather than producing a single metric, the results of non-monetary assessments guide policy allowing weight to be given as necessary to potential areas of conflict and consensus. Strategies to take into account climate change effects and geohazard risks in EB-MSM have been applied or proposed worldwide. EB-MSM regimes must be alert to such risks and flexible to account for changes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-820
JournalOcean & Coastal Management
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • great-barrier-reef
  • sea use management
  • protected areas
  • climate-change
  • economic valuation
  • conservation
  • lessons
  • biodiversity
  • fisheries
  • impacts


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