Our seas are an incredible resource for us all, but as population and industry grow so does our dependence on the marine environment.
With national and international recognition that current levels of use and growth are unsustainable, the need to better manage our seas is now urgent.
The question is how? Our seas are vastly complex and diverse, with ecosystems intrinsically linked to one another. At the same time innovations and new technologies are focussing on using our seas to provide us with the materials and energy we need to continue to grow and develop. So how do we support these necessary new developments whilst protecting traditional industries and conserving marine life and their habitats?
One of the answers is marine planning.
Marine planning is at the centre of the Marine Management Organisation’s work. Our approach to marine planning in England is world leading, receiving international recognition. Just like land planning, marine planning will enable us to make more informed and coordinated decisions, helping to resolve potential conflicts between business, recreational activities and the environment.
Through marine plans we can understand what activities can take place, where and under what conditions. But it’s not just about understanding – building on the process to produce the plans, the real success is comes through their adoption and use.
The next challenge then is how to make the huge amount of data and materials needed to develop a plan simple and easy to use. To help this we have developed the Marine Information System (MIS).
The Marine Information System opens up marine data – from shipping routes to marine licence locations to marine conservation zones. It is completely digital, accessible for anyone with an internet connection on a mobile, tablet or PC. Through its mapping system users can get a real time snapshot of the sea. Updated every 24 hours to show the latest information, it means that developers can plan where new activities can take place, maximising opportunities for economic growth without wasting resources or damaging important marine ecosystems. As well as data, MIS also displays localised marine plan policies which public authorities will use for all decision making for activities and developments in or affecting the marine area.
The Marine Information System and how it displays and uses data is the future of marine planning. With it we can ensure that more people understand and use England’s marine plans, and ultimately protect our seas and their resources for future generations.