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Developing a Maritime Spatial Plan for the Adriatic Ionian Region

Barbanti, Andrea; Campostrini, Pierpaolo; Musco, Francesco; Sarretta, Alessandro; Gissi, Elena

The Mediterranean Sea is complex in its physiography (the average depth is 1,500 m, the deepest point is 5,267 m, with large shallow areas, like in the North Adriatic), in its ecology, in its social dimensions, in terms of interconnections between human activities and environmental characteristics. Surrounded by 22 countries, the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea house more than 150 million inhabitants together with a unique natural and cultural heritage, with over 400 UNESCO sites and several Marine Protected Areas. Today, is felt that the peculiarities of the Mediterranean offer major local opportunities for Blue Growth, from fisheries and tourism to energy and maritime transport. All traditional as well as emerging maritime economic sectors currently operating in the Mediterranean are expected to grow and expand over the next years with a consequent need to better consider the environmental impacts.
The need for protecting the vulnerable ecosystem has been recognized
since the adoption in 1976 of the Convention for Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) by all countries with a Mediterranean shoreline as well as the European Union.
The situation is more complicated from the point of view of the use of resources. Most Mediterranean States have established a 12-mile territorial sea, reduced to 6 mile in some cases, but few started the process for establishing Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as defined and regulated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC). Therefore, the existence of a large area of high seas in the Mediterranean requires a high level of cooperation between coastal states to ensure the sustainable utilization of resources (e.g. for fisheries).
In this context, the challenge for a properly assessed allocation of marine space to the concurrent activities taking place on (and in) the sea, is higher, but probably also more necessary than elsewhere. The ADRIPLAN pilot project, focused in a part of Mediterranean quite complicated indeed, the Adriatic Ionian Region (AIR), is aimed to demonstrate that the MSP challenge in the Mediterranean is NOT a “mission impossible”.
In ADRIPLAN we run an experiment, almost free from the complicated alignment of different national political decisions, but involving the local govern institutions closer to stakeholders’ and citizens’ needs, i.e. the Regions. All the main economic sectors were took into consideration and most of them participated actively to this experiment. The result is represented in this book. It is not a “real” Plan, as it is not binding for anyone, and does not involves or implies any endorsement of the Public Authorities (at any level) in the AIR.
Nevertheless, ADRIPLAN is a “realistic” experiment, where the actual needs, desires, perspectives coming from the territories faced to the Adriatic and Ionian seas were taken into consideration.
It represents a good step in the macroregional EUSAIR strategy, towards the adoption before the 2021, as required by the EU directive on MSP 2014/89/EU, of effective maritime plans in the area, providing guidelines and suggesting good practices valid for all the Mediterranean Sea. The proper spatial allocation of the activities is necessary also for reaching the goal of Good Environmental Status, as stated in the Marine Strategy Framework directive (2008/56/EC).
Finally, It is worth to mention the renewed attention to the Mediterranean Sea paid in these last years by EU institutions. It has been a pleasure, for a “Mediterranean EU citizen” like me, to run this pilot project in parallel with the development of the BLUEMED initiative, a Strategic Marine and Maritime Research and Innovation Agenda for Blue Growth in The Mediterranean Sea, that is going to be launched when ADRIPLAN is ending. Supported by a coordinated R&I effort, the sustainable use of the Mediterranean’s richness, will help to put again this Marine Region at the centre, and not on the periphery of Europe.
The future Mediterranean, shall be more peaceful, respectful of human
rights and justice, lower in poverty and in social disparity than the present.

Suggested citation: Barbanti A., Campostrini P., Musco F., Sarretta A., Gissi E. (eds.) (2015). Developing a Maritime Spatial Plan for the Adriatic-Ionian Region. CNR-ISMAR, Venice, IT.
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