Project deliverable Open Access

SIMNORAT - Initial Assessment (D1)

Giret, O.; Morel, C.; Gimard, A.; Alloncle, N.; Le Moing, E.; Quentric, A.; Quintela, A.; Lloret, A.; Lopes Alves, F.; Gomez Ballesteros, M.; Buceta, J-L.; Marques, M.; Plaza, M.; Silva, A.; Sousa, L.

Component: 1.1 Initial Assessment
Sub-component: 1.1.1 Initial Assessment MSP oriented


This initial assessment report aims to provide a synthetic and shared overview of existing conditions and dynamics of the SIMNORAT project area.

"Living document", this report has evolved and has been updated throughout the project's duration based upon the most recent informations available from European and national sources and the works and results of its different activities.

The report is divided into two main sections.

Part I – The SIMNORAT project area: an overview

This section addresses project area’s main characteristics: maritime delimitations, marine environment, maritime activities, pressures and impacts.

The marine environment chapter gives a description of the biological features of the various coastal and offshore ecosystems based on the MSFD descriptors 1 "Biodiversity" (benthic and pelagic habitats, marine mammals, marine birds, marine turtles, cephalopods, fish species) and 4 "Food webs". It aims to identify where particularly sensitive and ecologically important areas are. This detailed chapter is provided in annex 1.

The next chapter examines maritime activities undertaken by France, Spain and Portugal in the coastal and offshore waters of the project area: current situation, key figures, spatial distribution, strategies and policies, future trends… In line with works and reflections led at European level, focus is made on the following key maritime sectors: fisheries, marine aquaculture, offshore oil & gas, marine aggregates, ports & shipping, submarine cables, marine renewable energies: offshore wind and ocean energy, coastal and maritime tourism.

Finally, the interactions chapter draws on the preceding chapters to identify main pressures, potentially impacted areas (areas subject to high levels of pressures), and, if available, impacts on ecosystems. Assessment is based on the MSFD descriptors related to anthropogenic pressures, belonging to “biological”, “physical” or “substances, litter and energy” categories. This chapter is provided in annex 2.

Part II – Towards maritime spatial planning in the SIMNORAT project area

After a quick reminder of the main overarching European legal and policy frameworks which regulate maritime activities in Europe’s regional seas, this section reviews current status of maritime spatial planning in countries bordering the project area: France, Spain and Portugal.

If legal frameworks for maritime spatial planning are in place in all these three countries, level of progress in the preparation, elaboration and implementation of maritime spatial plans, is, however, very different from one country to another. In France and Portugal, maritime spatial plans are foreseen to be adopted in 2019 whereas, in Spain, works have just been undertaken.

This section concludes with a brief summary of previous, or current, transboundary MSP-related projects for the region of interest: TPEA, MAIA, MUSES.

This report was produced as part of SIMNORAT Project (Grant Agreement N0. EASME/EMFF/2015/1.2.1.3/03/SI2.742089). Competition for maritime space – for renewable energy equipment, aquaculture and other uses – has highlighted the need to manage our waters more coherently. Maritime spatial planning (MSP) works across borders and sectors to ensure human activities at sea take place in an efficient, safe and sustainable way. That is why the European Parliament and the Council have adopted a legislation to create a common framework for maritime spatial planning in Europe. The Directive 2014/89/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 (said Maritime Spatial Planning Directive) establishes a framework in order to reduce conflicts between sectors and create synergies between different activities, to encourage investment – by creating predictability, transparency and clearer rules, to increase cross-border cooperation – between EU countries to develop energy grids, shipping lanes, pipelines, submarine cables and other activities, but also to develop coherent networks of protected areas, and to protect the environment – through early identification of impact and opportunities for multiple use of space. The SIMNORAT project (Supporting Implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning in the Northern European Atlantic) is an EU/DG Mare co-funded cross-border project. It was launched on 1st of January 2017 and involves Portugal, Spain and France, while these countries had just designated their Competent Authorities and transposed the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Directive. SIMNORAT aims to support the implementation of the MSP Directive in the waters of Portugal, Spain and France, as well as to establish cross-border cooperation mechanisms between these Member States, to contribute to the coherence of their marine spatial plans to be established in 2021. The action ran until 31st of January 2019 and was based on a partnership of public bodies of the countries and one international organisation. It was composed of UAVR, CEDEX, IEO, AFB, CEREMA, Shom, and CPMR. Shom acted as coordinator. The objectives of the SIMNORAT project were addressed through a variety of activities and desktop or case studies. They are dedicated to identifying the methodology steps, and explore the challenges and opportunities of the MSP implementation in the Northern European Atlantic, including thus related to transboundary issues (Ecosystem based approach, marine policies, OSPAR Convention, Land Sea Interactions, geographical scale of the plans, data interoperability, tools to support MSP). The project led to a multiplicity of outputs including overviews of MSP relevant information related to the countries and on more focus areas, to a number of interviews and meetings where stakeholder views were collected to feed the reasoning, and to guidelines and good practices to be shared at a national and transnational level with marine stakeholders, scientific as well as planners, administrations and authorities. In addition, SIMNORAT permitted a lot of progression internally in the countries and regarding transboundary cooperation. It led to establish and develop new dialogues and to connect the technical or scientific actors, the stakeholders, the administrations of the countries of a same sea basin, and the administrations within the countries, including the representative of Regions. It allowed to better understand Maritime Spatial Planning mechanisms, to share knowledge and as such reached to build capacities, which is of importance as there is such a need in the Atlantic area compared to more Northern countries. The project also permitted to address topics which have never been addressed before. The involvement of France and Spain in SIMNORAT and in the EU-DG Mare sister projects SIMWESTMED and SIMCelt was useful for them to develop a global vision with their neighbours in the Western Mediterranean. At the end of this exercise, it is stated the need of pursuing the work and dialogue in particular through common tools, but at this stage, the SIMNORAT project has constituted a common knowledge and background. Disclaimer: The contents and conclusions of this report, including the maps and figures were developed by the participating partners with the best available knowledge at the time. They do not necessarily reflect the national governments' positions and are not official documents, nor data. The European Commission or Executive Agency for Small and Medium sized Enterprises is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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