• Dr. Vanessa Stelzenmüller
Related Institutes

Marine Spatial Planning – how to assess conflicts and potential synergy effects?


Use overlap in the German EEZ of the North Sea: Yellow to brownish shows intensity of fisheries, overlaid with wind farm areas, marine transport routes, pipelines, cables, and other kinds of use. (© Thünen-Institut/Vanessa Stelzenmüller)

Increasing human uses of coastal and offshore regions of the North and Baltic Sea cause an increased conflict potential between sectors. For example in German offshore wind turbine sites fishing is excluded. Future losses of space can be mitigated partly with the help of integrated spatial use concepts. Such concepts could encompass co-location of offshore wind turbines and passive gear fisheries or marine aquaculture.

However new regulations and reassignments of spatial uses have not only economic consequence – they entail ecological consequences for the marine ecosystems and ecosystem functions. Such complex cause-effect pathways are still not understood.

The development of comprehensive assessments of costs, benefits and risks of future marine use or spatial management strategies forms the focus of our research. An analysis of the international fishing effort of towed gear within the German EEZ (exclusive economic zone) showed that approximately 15% of the effort of large beam trawls overlap with proposed offshore windfarm sites. Results revealed in addition that when accounting for future fisheries management measures within marine conservation sites in the southern North Sea, Dutch beam trawlers targeting flat fish would be affected the most.

A first study on the feasibility of collocating passive gear fisheries such as gillnets within offshore wind farm sites revealed that the international gillnet fishery could lose up to 50 % in landings within the North Sea German EEZ when wind farm sites areas are closed entirely for fisheries (Stelzenmüller et al. 2016). The study recommends further to conduct comprehensive and area specific scoping studies as a baseline to actually decide on the implementation of a sustainable co-location of sectors. Another study shows that at least 30 % of the proposed wind farm sites could be suitable for offshore aquaculture, thus indicating a synergy potential between sectors.

Our results suggest that the assessments of spatial management strategies require comprehensive, holistic (environmental and economic) as well as small scale (“bottom-up”) analyses.


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  1. Buhl-Mortensen L, Galparsoro I, Vega Fernandez T, Johnson K, D'Anna G, Badalamenti F, Garofalo G, Carlström J, Piwowarczik J, Rabaut M, Vanaverbeke J, Schipper C, Dalfsen J van, Vassilopoulou V, Issaris Y, Hoof L van, Pecceu E, Hostens K, Pace ML, Stelzenmüller V, et al (2017) Maritime ecosystem-based management in practice: lessons learned from the application of a generic spatial planning framework in Europe. Mar Policy 75:174-186, DOI:10.1016/j.marpol.2016.01.024
  2. Stelzenmüller V, Diekmann R, Bastardie F, Schulze T, Berkenhagen J, Kloppmann MHF, Krause G, Pogoda B, Buck BH, Kraus G (2016) Co-location of passive gear fisheries in offshore wind farms in the German EEZ of the North Sea: a first socio-economic scoping. J Environ Manag 183(3):794-805, DOI:10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.08.027
  3. 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, Hoof L van (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
  4. Gimpel A, Stelzenmüller V, Grote B, Buck BH, Floeter J, Nuñez-Riboni I, Pogoda B (2015) A GIS modelling framework to evaluate marine spatial planning scenarios: Co-location of offshore wind farms and aquaculture in the German EEZ. Mar Policy 55(1):102-115, DOI:10.1016/j.marpol.2015.01.012
  5. Stelzenmüller V, Fock HO, Gimpel A, Rambo H, Diekmann R, Probst WN, Callies U, Bockelmann F, Neumann H, Kröncke I (2015) Quantitative environmental risk assessments in the context of marine spatial management: current approaches and some perspectives. ICES J Mar Sci 72(3):1022-1042, DOI:10.1093/icesjms/fsu206
  6. Ramos J, Soma K, Bergh O, Schulze T, Gimpel A, Stelzenmüller V, Mäkinen T, Fabi G, Frati F, Gault J (2015) Multiple interests across European coastal waters: the importance of a common language. ICES J Mar Sci 72(2):720–731, DOI:10.1093/icesjms/fsu095
  7. Gimpel A, Stelzenmüller V, Cormier R, Floeter J, Temming A (2013) A spatially explicit risk approach to support marine spatial planning in the German EEZ. Mar Environ Res 86:56-69, DOI:10.1016/j.marenvres.2013.02.013
  8. Stelzenmüller V, Schulze T, Gimpel A, Bartelings H, Bello E, Bergh O, Bolman B, Caetano M, Davaasuren N, Fabi G, Ferreira JG, Gault J, Gramolini R, Frati F, Hamon KG, JakR, Kopke K, Laurans M, Mäkinen T, Sell AF, et al (2013) Guidance on a better integration of aquaculture, fisheries, and other activities in the coastal zone : from tools to practical examples. 76 p