Decision Tool for Sustainable Seas
Decision making tools for the sustainable management of Europe’s seas.
South-west Scotland. The Mull of Kintyre. Tidal energy developers, local fishermen and tourist industry representatives gather to seek a compromise over the siting of tidal energy devices. And centre stage, to help resolve differences, stands a groundbreaking, interactive ‘touch table’ developed by KnowSeas (Knowledge-based Sustainable Management for Europe’s Seas), a major EU project accredited by Living With Environmental Change.
The table resembles a huge mousemat. A map is projected onto it and, using their hands, participants highlight the locations their activities and interests depend on. Different parts of the map light up in response and sites are ‘traded’ until agreement is reached. Meanwhile, a computer analyses all the information and scores potential solutions against a variety of sustainability criteria.
This is just one of the practical tools developed by KnowSeas as it explores how marine ecosystems can be maintained effectively in Europe’s four regional seas: the Baltic, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the North East Atlantic (including the North Sea). The aim is to ensure that the habitat, resource and amenity value of these seas is exploited sustainably in future.
Some of the tools, like the touch table, are genuinely innovative. Others are simple but invaluable – for instance, a timeline poster for policy-makers highlighting milestones under the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive. From web-based tools to decision-aiding flowcharts, the whole thrust is to explore the potential to manage seas using an ecosystem approach. As Dr Tim O’Higgins, Project Manager, explains:
“We need to embed an awareness that, when dealing with the sea, a variety of human values must be taken into account.”