Fisheries, offshore renewables, marine conservation, shipping and science: More and more users are competing for the same space in coastal and offshore areas. How can we balance sustainable use of marine resources and the maintenance of ecosystem health?
The main drivers of our research are the needs of a sound science base and practical tools to support a sustainable use of marine sources by multiple users while accounting for marine conservation and ecosystem health. In a first step we analyse and describe the interaction of the spatial-temporal dynamic of both marine resource and human uses such as fisheries. This allows identifying the risk of human pressures on key ecosystem components which then can be incorporated in the development of spatial management scenarios.
The second key aspect of our work is the development and assessment of indicators which are important for the implementation of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The operationalization of indicators involves the assessment of ecosystem states and the development of indicators including reference levels for their assessment. We provide advice on management measures to regulate human impacts in order to achieve policy goals. We pursue our aims with the help of various methods for monitoring, assessment and evaluation. Those comprise theoretical concepts for the evaluation of management measures, statistical distribution models of important ecosystem components, complex probability based models for assessing the risk and impacts of management scenarios, GIS analysis and detailed time series analysis. The latter serve as a basis to assess the targets and reference points of the good environmental status (GES) of the North Sea ecosystem as required by the MSFD. Current and future national spatial management measures have cross-border impacts. Therefore our work is embedded in strong national and international cooperation.