24 Months On: Progress Report from the Estonia case study

Robert Aps of the University of Tartu, explores the highlights, progress and latest news from GAP2 in Estonia, including the establishment of Kihnu Island’s National Park.

Most Recent News

“The Marine Spatial Planning for the Pärnu County’s sea area (Pärnu Bay, Gulf of Riga, the Baltic Sea) has actually been running since January and the EU has already published the first version of the regulations for further discussions.

Pärnu is a coastal locality famed by its holiday facilities in summer. There, commercial fishers are using fixed gears and nets in shallow waters and carry out some trawling. But they share the waters with recreational fishers and other activities.

One of the most original ideas to come from the process was to establish the cultural-environmental Kihnu Island’s National Park with aim not only to protect the sensitive nature and fish spawning grounds of this sea area but also to preserve the unique coastal culture and history of inhabitants (Kihnu is a small island in the Pärnu Bay).

There have been some formal and informal meetings since June, 2012. Some of the meetings were organized by the case study, but also scientists attended meetings organized by other stakeholders, such as NGOs. There are some other scheduled in the short term.”

Activity Updates

“The case study is progressing according to schedule. By the close of 2014, the final case study activities will coincide with the completion of the main part of the Pärnu County’s sea area Marine Spatial Planning implementation.

During case study meetings, we hold open discussions. While fishermen often want to close fishing areas to other activities, environmentalists try to protect species such as seals and cormorants. Both agree to protect the environment, e.g. spawning sites, benthic vegetation fields for fish recruitment in shallow waters and breeding migration corridors for certain species.

Scientists “translate” scientific data, like stock assessments, to increase the involvement of the fishers in the Marine Spatial Planning. They use mainly visual methods like the web tool to show fishery statistics aggregations, unregulated landing sites, etc. Fishers can use these data to justify their arguments for their fishing grounds and on their activities.”

Issues and Resolutions

“The Marine Spatial Planning is closely related to the process of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, as there are many other activities that should be considered, such as ports and other coastal infrastructure and services. The fishers’ involvement has been improving with time.

Initially, fishermen were very skeptical about the Marine Spatial Planning, but as the planning process became reality, they realized that if they were not involved, they wouldn’t be able to contribute to management decisions on their fisheries.”

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