Published: 08 August 2017
A series of stakeholder workshops were organised for the MERP case study sites in southwest England and the west coast of Scotland, in order to develop scenarios that reflect ambitions for marine management, conservation and blue growth and to evaluate how these drivers might affect ecosystem services.
Changes in national and local priorities (not least as a result of, for example, Brexit) could have significant implications for UK marine areas. Using scenarios allows the possible outcomes of change to be explored and demonstrates how marine ecosystem models can be used to provide evidence, tools and advice that is relevant for policy makers and environmental managers.
At the workshops, participants were asked to imagine alternative futures in order to define storylines that described how drivers and activities, affecting the marine environment, would change in these different worlds. The starting point for these storylines was the scenarios generated by the National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA). These senarios have internally consistent logic and reflect a broad range of societal view points and interests, thus providing a useful foundation from which a set of storylines could be developed that responded to current regional, national and international issues and that are specific to marine management.
The NEA scenarios used at the workshop were:
Green and Pleasant Land: A preservationist attitude arises because the UK can afford to look after its own backyard without diminishing the ever-increasing standards of living.
Nature at Work: Continued expansion of global free-market enterprise alongside further increases in global environmental standards.
World Markets: Massive expansion and adoption of free market enterprise globally. Stronger faith in technological solutions to environmental problems.
National Security: Focus on home-grown production and sustainable use due to short supply of global resources.
Local Stewardship: Global free-market enterprise slows down; further increases in global environmental standards.
In defining the marine-specific storylines for these scenarios, participants were asked to consider drivers including: demand for sea food and recreational activities; new markets and consumer behaviour; the strength of fisheries and marine protection legislation; land management actions, such as catchment management and managed retreat; the expansion of marine renewable energy, and other industries requiring marine space. Participants were then asked to think about the consequences of the drivers in terms of the effects on: fish imports/exports; fishing effort; species harvested; development of aquaculture; pollutant inputs; cultural identity; leisure activities, and the possible development of novel strategies to address problems. When considering the use of different fishing gears, participants were also asked to consider whether the different scenarios were likely to lead to any improvements in gear selectivity or to affect discard rates.
Two workshops were undertaken for the southwest England case study: one in North Devon with a local focus, and a second near Bodmin, which considered issues at the Cornwall County scale. A workshop was also held in Glasgow to cover the west of Scotland region. 27 stakeholders joined the North Devon workshop, representing local authorities, the Marine Management Organisation, Natural England, the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Agency, national and local conservation groups, Non-Governmental Organisations and fishing associations. Similar organisations were represented at the Scotland and Cornwall workshops.
The implications of the scenarios for the different marine activities were recorded in a series of tables that indicated the expected direction and magnitude of changes, using a seven-point scale ranging from a large negative impact to a large positive benefit. The tables will be used to define inputs into the marine ecosystem models, allowing the long term impact of the changes to be considered. The results will be reported back to the participants at workshops later in the year.