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© Kay Panten
Institute of

SF Sea Fisheries


Tools for Marine Spatial Planning (MESMA)

© Thünen-Institut/Vanessa Stelzenmüller

Monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed areas (MESMA)

How can the efficiency of a current or future spatial management approach be assessed in relation to stated management objectives? MESMA has produced a set of coherent management tools (concepts, models and methods) for monitoring, evaluation and implementation of Spatially Managed marine Areas (SMAs), based on European collaboration.

Background and Objective

The increasing pressures upon the marine realm call for a well-planned approach of further spatial development of this area. An ecosystem-based approach to fisheries, the increasing demand for sustainable energy, coastal defence systems, building materials and safe transport routes and the need to protect marine habitats and species all compete for the same valuable space. One of the major challenges is to implement future spatial planning that also takes cross-boundary developments into account which allows balancing a sustainable use of marine areas with the maintenance of ecosystem health and function. MESMA aimed to produce integrated management tools (concepts, models and guidelines) for monitoring, evaluation and implementation of Spatially Managed marine Areas (SMAs), based on European collaboration. It developed a set of strategic tools and innovative methods for governments, local authorities, stakeholders and other managerial bodies for planning and decision-making at different local, national and European scales. The development of such an integrated toolbox based on the analysis and comparison of selected SMAs throughout Europe varying in context, spatial scale and scope.

Target Group

Policy maker, public, science, decision maker


The work programme comprised the development of a standardised step-wise framework which allowed identifying management objectives and the specification of related spatial data, guides a risk analysis of the impact of potential management measures and evaluation of existing measures. Further, a detailed governance analysis framework was developed to be aligned to the rather quantitative analysis of management efficiency. In addition, a geospatial infrastructure has been developed along with an online assessment tool. This allows the expansion of the application of MESMA tools and concepts beyond the selected case study areas.


One of the core results is the (online) MESMA framework, which has been tested in nine case studies in in North- and Southern Europe. Its high flexibility enables a standardized assessment of management, even though the data structure is complex or the management implementation difficult. Further, guidance is provided for governmental analysis, the data structure needed and the interactive web-based evaluation concept (manual).


Links and Downloads


Involved external Thünen-Partners


1.2010 - 12.2013

More Information

Project funding number: 226661
Funding program: EU – FP7 – Thematic Priority "Environment (including Climate Change)"
Project status: finished


  1. 0

    Stelzenmüller V, Vega Fernandez T, Cronin K, Röckmann C, Pantazi M, Van Averbeke J, Stamford T, Hostens K, Pecceu E, Degraer S, Buhl-Mortensen L, Carlström J, Galparsoro I, Johnson K, Piwowarczik J, Vassilopoulou V, Jak R, Pace ML, van Hoof L (2015) Assessing uncertainty associated with the monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed areas. Mar Policy 51:151-162, DOI:10.1016/j.marpol.2014.08.001

  2. 1

    Stelzenmüller V, Breen P, Stamford T, Thomsen F, Badalamenti F, Borja A, Buhl-Mortensen L, Carlström J, D'Anna G, Dankers N, Degraer S, Dujin M, Fiorentino F, Galparsoro I, Giakoumi S, Cristina M, Johnson K, Jones PJ, Katsanevakis S, Knittweis L, et al (2013) Monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed areas: a generic framework for implementation of ecosystem based marine management and its application. Mar Policy 37(1):149-164, DOI:10.1016/j.marpol.2012.04.012

  3. 2

    Katsanevakis S, Stelzenmüller V, South A, Sorensen T, Jones PJ, Kerr S, Badalamenti F, Anagnostou C, Breen P, Chust G, Chust G, D'Anna G, Duijn M, Filatova T, Fiorentino F, Hulsman H, Johnson K, Karageorgis AP, Kröncke I, Mirto S, Pipitone C, et al (2011) Ecosystem-based marine spatial management: Review of concepts, policies, tools, and critical issues. Ocean Coastal Manag 54(11):807-820, DOI:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2011.09.002

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