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.

Catalonia Case Study: understanding stakeholder and policymaker needs for successful marine environmental management

The Catalonia case study assessed to what degree fisheries, aquaculture and all related recreational activities are compatible with a sustainable use of the marine environment and policy makers and stakeholders’ demands and their interplay concerning marine management in the Catalonian region (Spain). Important themes which emerged from the interviews conducted for this case study included the fragmentation of competences, the lack of strategic planning and sparse knowledge about the marine environment together with a non-definition of the objectives to be achieved. Important stakeholders argued that common objectives should be defined by all actors involved in coastal management and that coordination and cooperation between the main stakeholders is important.


Integrated Coastal Zone Management emerged as an important theme. The following issues were mentioned: fisheries, aquaculture, recreational fisheries, nautical activities, wind farms, society, tourism, gas and petroleum prospecting, shipping, ports, conservationism and researchers. It was shown that conflicts exist between the different users. Conflict resolution strategies therefore need to take into account highly differentiated underlying conflict structures.

A number of barriers to the successful management of Catalonia were highlighted and include: fragmentation of competences among different public bodies (e.g. Spanish Government vs Catalan Government vs Local Authorities); existing conflicts between public administrations due to the fact that competences are not well defined; a lack of co-ordination and co-operation between public bodies, stakeholders and governance regimes; a lack of policies, planning and instruments such as integrated marine spatial planning; lack of knowledge and scientific baseline data for the marine environment (as required by the MSFD) and the indirect ecological, economic and social benefits from the marine environment; and a lack of a unified coast guard service with the necessary resources and competences. Several stakeholders mentioned that there are many different spatial planning instruments in land but there are no equivalent tools for the marine environment. Mo re research is needed and claimed concerning indirect benefits of natural areas.


A number of policy recommendations have been highlighted with respect to the management of the Catalan coast.

  • Certain European policies such as the WFD have been successfully implemented - a benchmarking analysis should be undertaken to detect best practices and to identify the most successful strategies adopted for the implementation of the Directive.
  • More research is needed concerning the indirect benefits of natural areas. New management, regulatory measures and investments should be based on the results of these initiatives.
  • It is necessary to increase awareness among society concerning the impacts of the activities that are carried out in marine environments.
  • The fishing sector needs to be better informed about financial instruments and existing initiatives such as pescaturismo or fishing tourism in order to promote this economic activity. Public administrations need to get more involved in helping economic sectors in relation to these financial instruments
  • An ICZM approach should be tackled to improve coordination in Catalan coastal management activities. There is a need of creating a body or organization which would gather all public and private agents involved in the Catalan coastal management.
  • Management should be re-assessed in order to find feasible solutions for both fishing vessels and their end-of life.
  • Local, regional and national management initiatives should be implemented to ensure that nautical boats are not abandoned.
  • Integrated marine spatial planning instruments should be developed.
  • More data is needed concerning marine parameter measuring and monitoring.
  • It is essential to give an economic value to natural capital for the benefit of natural resources.
Relevance for Policy:
  • Common Fisheries Policy
  • Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management (forthcoming)
  • Habitats and Birds Directive
  • ICZM Protocol to the Barcelona Convention
  • Integrated European Maritime Policy (IMP)
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive
  • Water Framework Directive

Lead Author:

Lola Rodriguez and Laia Piñol & Laia Piñol
LEITAT Technological Centre
Date of research: July 2012

Related articles:

A spatial typology for the sea

Activities influencing fisher location choice 

Changes on stocks and management in saithe fishery 

Develop risk assessments leading to best practice

Dogger Bank: stakeholder and policy-maker needs 

Economic analysis of offshore wind farms project 

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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.