BalticRIM-experts at the MUSES workshop in Venice: Strategic outreach to other maritime spatial planning initiatives
The workshop belongs to another major ongoing project in the field of maritime spatial planning: The MUSES-project (short for: Multi-Use in European Seas). The title was ‘Embracing opportunities – Ocean Multi-Use Action Plan development workshop’, the meeting was hosted by Thetis (an Italian consulting and engineering company) on the historical premises of the Venetian Arsenal. The central theme of the meeting was to gauge opportunities for potential synergies between different stakeholders. While spatial interests could be vastly different and conflicting, solutions can often serve a common purpose, for instance the construction of static structures which can be used for both the offshore energy and aquaculture sector. The synergetic potential was outlined in flash and poster presentations and discussed in more detail in parallel sessions, in which the participants were asked to assign priorities with regard to legal frameworks and policies, research, capacity building, promotion and outreach, integration and coordination, as well as funding.
Due to the high presence of archaeologists from the BalticRIM-project, the organisers took the opportunity to emphasise the aspect of how the underwater cultural heritage could be integrated and valorized for tourism-driven planning. It emerged that – realistically – this would be only an added benefit to a regionally otherwise already well-developed tourism sector, as recreational scuba diving is still a minor branch compared to other branches. Participants highlighted the aggregated value of the underwater cultural heritage for other stakeholders: Shipwrecks often form natural reefs and provide the only habitats for aquatic life and a rich biodiversity in otherwise featureless underwater landscapes, to the benefit of both conservationists and recreational divers. The decline of commercial fishing due to overfishing and catch-quotas could be partially absorbed by a growing demand for dive-boats or pescatourism. While many discussions remained theoretical and empirical data for the feasibility of multi-use applications remained restricted to some pilot cases, all participants gained valuable insights in the objectives and priorities from stakeholders of other sectors, which can be regarded as a precondition for outreach.
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