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.

Marine and coastal benefits in daily experiences of citizens of Gulf of Gdansk, Southern Baltic

Marine ecosystems provide a variety of goods and services that are vital for social and economic development of coastal communities. Increased anthropogenic pressures, pollution and unsustainable use of marine resources call for long-term ecosystem-based governance. Such a governance can neither be legitimate nor successful if it overlooks the interests and values of social actors. This study, in the form of citizens’ jury workshop, investigates (i) how uninformed citizens of the Gulf of Gdansk define ecosystem services, (ii) how they perceive and prioritise current and potential uses of the marine realm, and (iii) which services and uses are close or distant to their every-day experience.


This study reveals a relatively high understanding of the relationships between humans and surrounding marine and coastal environments. It also shows high recognition of cultural services, especially tourism and recreation, and a relative inconsideration for other traditional uses of the Gulf.

The participants listed many contributions the Gulf makes to their daily life, or more widely to region’s economic and social well-being. Although their discussions focused on these ecosystem services that are directly linked to local economies, they also highlighted the regulatory functions of nature. Water purification and biological control were highly valued. Fisheries and heavy industry (e.g., shipyards) were predominantly described as sectors in decline. Both common and individual rankings of ecosystem services gave priority to development through the utilization of cultural and recreational amenities of the region. Hence, the role of good environmental status of marine waters and coastal areas was underlined. The participants -- in general -- considered tourism as relatively environmentally friendly, although they did recognize threats arising from mass tourism and lack of long-term vision for this sector. The most important negative effects caused by tourism included increased traffic, noise, littering, and destruction of local landscape. The workshop participants also complained that recreational offer is limited to summer months, is based on sea, sun, and sand, and is often disconnected from local and regional heritage. They felt that if such attitudes do not change, tourists will stop coming as no one wants to rest and relax in ugly and polluted places.


The results of the study show a great support for the environmental protection, provided it ensures egalitarian access to marine areas. Nevertheless, many participants rejected the concept of intrinsic value of nature.

Clean and healthy natural environment was considered as an important factor of life quality. There was a strong support for conservation initiatives, including zoning. However, the participants opposed spatial closures. They believed marine protected areas are needed but should be open for recreational uses. They pointed out that combining protection and tourism works well on land, and such an approach should also be adopted on the sea. Economic loses were accepted as a result of the enforcement of marine protected areas. In general, the participants agreed that there is no single sector that would not influence negatively the state of marine and coastal ecosystems. However, they were strongly convinced that human and nature needs can be balanced, and the degradation is more a result of an ineffective decisions and lack of proper planning than of human activities as such.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management (forthcoming)
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Directive
  • Habitats and Birds Directive
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Lead Author:

Joanna Piwowarczyk
( )
Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAS)
Date of research: May 2014

Related articles:

Changes in herring larvae and environment 1957-2010

Deliberative valuation and the Dogger Bank 

Ecology - Economy interactions in fisheries 

Ecosystem service changes in an offshore MPA

Fish distributions and spatial management measures 

Impact of jellyfish on fisheries and tourism 

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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.