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.

Policy and regulation

Many countries worldwide appear to have an unnecessarily complex marine legislation and administrative framework, responding to and the result of a suite of international, regional (e.g. European) and national policies, laws and agreements. Whereas European policies until the 1990s were sectoral in nature, EU legislation has progressively become more holistic embracing the Ecosystem-Based Approach. Marine policy is ever evolving and even during the VECTORS project timescale, a new European framework directive for Maritime Spatial Planning (2014-89-EU) has been adopted. VECTORS undertook a detailed review of current marine governance at the international level (Conventions and other international law), EU level (Directives like the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Water Framework Directive) and at the national level (governance in all VECTORS partner countries). The review has particularly focused on three key VECTORS themes (renewable energy, fisheries and shipping) and on the three regional sea areas of the North Sea, Baltic Sea and western Mediterranean Sea including a review of their respective Conventions. VECTORS has synthesised and mapped the policy and legal frameworks, allowing an evaluation of current forms and mechanisms of marine governance across the EU.

A stated scientific and technical objectives of the VECTORS programme is ‘to project the future changes and consequences of multi-sectoral human activity in the marine environment under possible scenarios of adaptation and mitigation’. VECTORS has used the future scenarios developed by the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios to explore the legislative, policy and governance repercussions with respect to three of the key VECTORS drivers of change (demand for food, transport and energy).

VECTORS has investigated the role of stakeholders and policymakers in shaping the future of marine governance. A key focus of VECTORS is to synthesise policy and governance as a tool for stakeholders, and therefore it was essential to engage stakeholders throughout the project. This was carried out through 69 semi-structured interviews held within each VECTORS regional sea (North Sea, Baltic Sea, Western Mediterranean), and at the EU-level, and through marine stakeholder workshops to disseminate results and obtain feedback to improve our current understanding of marine governance. Their views have been used to determine similarities and differences in governance regimes across Europe, identifying lessons learned and examples of best practice.

VECTORS has taken on board the feedback received from the marine stakeholders and has produced a series of policy recommendations on governance controls, assessment tools and policy scenario analysis for the key vectors of change associated with fisheries, energy and shipping.

VECTORS research focus:

  1. Review of policy and governance
  2. Policy implications of future marine scenarios
  3. Stakeholder engagement:
    • Dogger Bank case study – North Sea
    • Puck Bay case study – Baltic Sea
    • Sinis MPA case study – Western Mediterranean Sea
    • Catalonia case study – Western Mediterranean Sea
    • EU-level case study
  4. Synthesis for policymakers and stakeholders

Lead Author

Sue Boyes, Mike Elliott and Daryl Burdon

Explore other research themes under the categories below:

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.

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