Guidelines for an ecosystem approach in marine policy

Guidelines for an ecosystem approach in marine policy

Guidelines for an ecosystem approach in marine policy


PISCES (Partnerships involving Stakeholders in the Celtic Sea Ecosystem) has produced a practical guide for implementing the ecosystem approach through marine policy,

with a particular focus on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and highlights the need for marine spatial planning (to download a copy please visit 

The guide is the result of a unique partnership where Celtic Sea stakeholders shared a common goal – to find ways to manage their activities more sustainably. The Celtic Sea is one of the most heavily used seas on the planet. Growing demand for finite marine resources and a lack of coordination is causing increased conflict between stakeholders and is threatening the health of the marine environment on which so many depend. The ecosystem approach could help to ensure we have viable marine industries, prosperous coastal communities and a healthy marine environment for generations to come.

PISCES is a pioneering project that has empowered stakeholders to create their own practical guide to taking the ecosystem approach to marine management in the Celtic Sea. The three-year LIFE+ co-funded project, led by WWF-UK has brought together representatives from the major sectors that operate in this area.

What is the ecosystem approach?

The ecosystem approach involves consideration of all ecosystem components – physical and biological - in an integrated and holistic way. It also places a strong emphasis on stakeholder participation; an area explored in detail in the PISCES guide.

Who is the PISCES guide for?

  • Decision-makers responsible for implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and other marine policies in the Celtic Sea and elsewhere.
  • Stakeholders who operate in and around the Celtic Sea (e.g. fisheries, offshore renewables, shipping, tourism and recreation, ports, aggregates and aquaculture).
  • Everyone who have an interest in implementing the ecosystem approach in the Celtic Sea or other locations.

Key messages

  • The ecosystem approach should be used to help make decisions to manage our activities in a more sustainable way.
  • A range of new governance mechanisms are required to fully implement the ecosystem approach in the marine environment, particularly marine spatial planning.
  • Collaborative, effective stakeholder participation is essential and should begin early.
  • Stakeholders can play an important role in Marine Strategy Framework Directive implementation.
  • Governments should engage proactively with stakeholders early in the process.
  • Stakeholders need to be assertive and organised to maximise participation opportunities.
  • Multi-sector, regional stakeholder forums should be established.
  • Stakeholders should continue to seek new ways to implement voluntary measures to improve sustainability of their activities.