Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Deliberative valuation and the Dogger Bank

A deliberative workshop was undertaken to explore what ‘ordinary’ citizens think should be prioritised on the Dogger Bank, and why they think so. The workshop allowed people to deliberate together on these issues. This allowed them to elaborate on their positions and arguments and to bring out some of the nuances and dilemmas in the debate. This approach was used to provide more in depth detail than was possible to gain from the choice experiment survey also applied to the Dogger Bank.

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Respondents found ranking the uses of the Dogger Bank challenging, reflecting the difficulties faced by the different stakeholders involved in the preparation of the Dogger Bank management plan.

In deciding which uses to prioritise, one group opted for a ‘no vote’ in their collective ranking as the group did not feel that the information given in the limited time was enough to make an informed choice. Another group felt there was a need for balance / coexistence in the first place and believed that everything had a place in the Dogger Bank. Two groups pointed out that conservation and sustaining the natural environment should be the priority when making decisions. Overall, there was a feeling that insufficient information was provided in order to make an informed decision.

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Conservation should be a priority, with caveats.

Participants in general understood the intrinsic value of the Dogger Bank but also its value in terms of its economic potential (mainly regarding food, fishing and energy). In understanding the way participants ranked the different uses/services of the bank, the word balance kept coming up and the need to protect it for future generations.

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The majority of the participants favoured fishing in the Dogger Bank over the construction of windfarms.

Participants expressed support for different uses depending how much they felt that use was sustainable and how that sustainability has been defended by (mainly) the witnesses. The participants also found that it was important to know who profits from the uses (family business versus big companies) and how they would be economically affected by any changes or decisions. Uncertainties as to whether the windfarm would generate enough and cheaper energy, what the effect will be on the marine environment and whether that impact would be short or long-term or even irreversible. The participants did not feel they received sufficient information to make a decision. Additionally, evidence presented with data, as opposed to hypotheticals also made a difference. Specifically, the fishing industry was able to provide evidence from their activities, while the windfarm development witness could only present a hypothetical situation since their activities are only proposed and not yet operational.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management (forthcoming)
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Directive
  • EU Biodiversity Strategy
  • Habitats and Birds Directive
  • Marine and Coastal Access Act
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive

Lead Author:

Alyne Delaney & Caroline Hattam
(ad@nospamifm.aau.dk)
Aalborg University (IFM - AAU)
Date of research: May 2014

Related articles:

Co-existence in busy seas: the primary sectors 

Dogger Bank: stakeholder and policy-maker needs 

Develop risk assessments leading to best practice

Ecosystem service changes in an offshore MPA

Activities influencing fisher location choice 

Changes on stocks and management in saithe fishery 

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The content of this website may be subject to copyright, if you wish to use any of the information or figures please contact the attributed author(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.