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.

Social economic impact assessment for the future in VECTORS Seas

Changes in marine ecosystems in the next future are generally expected to have adverse effects on socio-economic systems. The present study focuses on two relevant services marine ecosystems could provide up to 2030: fish stock for commercial harvesting activities and tourism attractiveness of coastal zones. Changes in marine ecosystems in the Western Mediterranean Sea, North Sea and Baltic Sea regions are assessed economically via their impact on tourism and fishing industries.


The current analysis provides quantitative estimates of relevant macro-economic variables (Gross Domestic Product, sectoral production, commodities prices, trade import-export), with special attention for national systems highly relying upon activities such as fishing and tourism. This can be helpful for policy-makers in understanding future challenges and guiding for opportune adaptation strategy.

Given the relatively higher importance of tourism with respect to the fishing industry, in all three VECTORS areas induced changes in tourism flows are more economically significant, ranging between 0.35% and 0.97% decrease in GDP with respect to the reference scenario.

The low share of value added of fishing industry in the national value added implies much lower losses in terms of GDP but still substantial decrease in sectoral production, that can be impressively high (mainly in the Mediterranean area) under specific assumptions on socio-economic and climate drivers (see below). Combining both impacts (tourism and fishing industries), the Western Mediterranean Sea region appears to have higher losses.


Socio-economic and climate assumptions matter. Sectoral and economy-wide impacts can vary according to the different pressures on socio-economic and environmental systems. We compare two different scenarios (IPCC SRES A2 and B1) to assess differentiated impacts underlying the two different storylines.

The macro-economic assessment is consistent with the two scenarios above. There are two socio-economic reference scenarios, varying in terms of population, GDP, commodities prices and other relevant trends. Moreover, physical impact on fish biomass (D33.1 from WP3.3, task 3.3.1) and changes in tourism flows (based on D32.1, from WP3.2, task 3.2.4) are computed accordingly, considering the overarching drivers of changes.

We find that the impact on the fish sector is stronger in the A2 scenario mostly due to the higher population trends than B1, implying higher food demand, including fish.

The change in tourism flows is less sustained in the more environmental-friendly B1 scenario and this explains the lower reduction in the revenues in the tourism industry as well as in GDP with respect to the A2 scenario.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive

Lead Author:

Francesco Bosello & Fabio Eboli
Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)
Date of research: October 2014

Related articles:

The link between tourism and ecosystems 

Changes on stocks and management in saithe fishery 

Ecology - Economy interactions in fisheries 

Ecosystem service changes in an offshore MPA

Food web change along a nearshore-offshore gradient

Food webs along the European Atlantic coast

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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.