Mutual Learning in Estonia: Marine Spatial Planning

The Meeting

on March 7th, 2013 GAP2 held a Stakeholder Mutual Learning meeting in Pärnu, Estonia. You can read about the background and aims of the meeting here.

For the meeting, 23 participants gathered together including representatives from the Estonian Fishermen’s Association, NGOs and policy makers (for a full list of participants represented, see below). Mart Undrest, Chairman of Estonian Fisherman Association, welcomed the participants and outlined the topic of the meeting before GAP2 and University of Tartu scientist, Robert Aps introduced the concept of interest based collaborative mutual learning. This was followed by Kuido Kartau (of Hendrikson & Ko), who explained in detail about the planned actual activities aimed at the completion of the Pärnu County’s Maritime Spatial Plan over the next few years. To complete the introductory talks, Madli Kopti, from the Estonian Marine Institute (University of Tartu) gave a detailed overview of the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) process in general.

Following these talks, there was a lively discussion, focused on the formulation of the most vital fisheries interests to be integrated into the process of MSP:

It was recognized that the fisheries basic interests are in good harmony with existing high-level political commitments. For example, in the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan it is recommended that all fisheries management should be developed and implemented based on the Ecosystem Approach in order to enhance the balance between sustainable use and protection of marine natural resources. It was agreed that the Pärnu County’s fisheries should develop the image of most environmentally friendly fisheries possible.

The general view and conceptual definition of the Pärnu Bay as a “cradle of marine” life including fish was proposed and discussed. The aim was be use this as an argument in the following MSP related stakeholder’s interest based negotiations. Fisheries interest in protecting the fish spawning grounds was confirmed and concern was expressed that protecting the fish spawning grounds is far not enough. The fish larvae and the following young fish life stages should also be protected against threats such as, the possible increased mortality caused by jetting in the Pärnu Bay. The possible options for temporal and spatial restrictions for jetting were proposed and discussed.

Next, the importance of the autumn spawning herring fishery for the very local fishing community was highlighted. This was then discussed in relation to the possible wind park area allocation in the vicinity of the herring spawning grounds. Discussion between the herring scientist and the wind farms developers (Eesti Energia) was very constructive and collaborative.

The was also the issue of allocating sea space for the possible agriculture/mariculture future developments in the Pärnu Bay to be discussed. However, no current business interest in that respect was recognized.

In conclusion, Pärnu County’s MSP related Stakeholder’s Mutual Learning meeting certainly contributed:

  • to identification and mapping the actual fisheries related problems,
  • to further development of credible, relevant and sound arguments to be used in balancing environmental, economic and social interests in a process of the MSP, and
  • to building up the fisheries and all other stakeholder’s capacity for informed participation in the process of the MSP.


There were 23 participants at the meeting, representing a wide variety of stakeholders:

  • Estonian Fishermen’s Association,
  • Estonian Fund for Nature,
  • Fisheries Information Centre,
  • Pärnu County Government,
  • Estonian Ministry of Agriculture,
  • Estonian Environmental Board,
  • Estonian Maritime Administration,
  • Tahkuranna Local Community,
  • Eesti Energia (Wind Park Developer),
  • Hendrikson & Ko (Pärnu County Marine Spatial Plan developer).


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