Background information and key policy targets

At the international scale, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has put forward concrete steps to move the marine biodiversity agenda forward:

  • In 2002, the Convention of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP) adopted the 2010 Biodiversity target which was to “achieve a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level”.
  • In 2006, in order to clarify the 2010 biodiversity target, the CBD COP adopted a number of sub-targets which call for the effective conservation of at least 10% of each of the world’s marine and coastal ecological regions and for the effective protection of particularly vulnerable marine habitats. This deadline has been postponed recently to 2020.
  • In 2010, in Nagoya, it was re-emphasized that marine protected areas represent one effective tool to ensure the protection of marine and coastal biodiversity: new forms of management and governance systems should now support MPAs implementation.

At the European scale,

  • The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) calls for the Good Environmental Status (GES) of EU marine waters: it sets out specific GES criteria and standards of which Biodiversity (and the establishment of MPAs) as a key descriptor;
  • The Birds and Habitat Directive (BHD) recommends the Natura 2000 network as an effective tool to implement MPAs in Europe.

The North Sea field lab for science-based Marine Protection

Scientists from different North Sea countries will give an overview on the scientific efforts and the status of MPAs in their part of the North Sea. The symposium will identify the gaps, needs and opportunities related to the use of scientific data and knowledge in implementing MPAs on a regional sea level. This event will bring together European scientists, managers, NGOs representatives and policy makers to discuss this science-policy nexus.


To address the current rate of biodiversity loss, scientists have been cooperating since the seventies to increase the marine scientific knowledge in the North Sea and to implement area-based management measures.
MPAs role has been now widely recognized in protecting marine biodiversity while regulating potential harmful human activities on the marine environment.
As in many other countries, Belgian scientists are currently assessing the uptake of the available scientific information (e.g. integrated assessments) for the development of national policies: the goal is to better promote and foster the integration of Marine Protected Areas into future Marine Spatial Plans.
Many European countries are involved in the planning and management of MPAs in the North Sea: the Westbanks Symposium will therefore address the gaps, needs and opportunities related to the use of scientific data and knowledge in implementing MPAs on a regional sea level.


The symposium will focus on the science-policy nexus and aims to attract European scientists, managers, NGOs representatives and policy makers.


The symposium discussions will feed into on-going work of the Marine Board-ESF Working Group on Marine Protected Areas: its final product (a position paper) will aim implementation of a coherent network of MPAs in Europe, in the frame of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.


  • 9.35-10.20: Introduction: MPAs in the North Sea: Many maps but little protection.
  • Han Lindeboom, IMARES - Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies (NL)

  • 10.20-10.50: The use of the ecosystem approach in designing and monitoring MPAs (with focus on fisheries).
    Esben Olsen, institute of Marine Research (NO)-MB working group on MPAs.
  • 11.20-11.50: Case study of a newly created French MPA in Nord-Pas de Calais: lessons learned and best practices in the frame of a representative and coherent network of North Sea MPAs.
    Xavier Harlay, French Marine Protected Areas Agency(FR) and
    Jean-Marie Dewarumez, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (FR)
  • 11.50-12.20: Spatial planning of MPAs: resolving conflicts between users.
    Torsten Schulze , Johann Heinrich Von Thünen Institut (G)
  • 12.20-12.50: The design and monitoring of MPAs in a changing environment.
    Michel Kaiser, Bangor University (UK)
  • 14-14.30: Key stone species such as important benthic ecosystem engineers as a tool to implement the ecosystem approach to marine management.
    Marijn Rabaut, University of Ghent (BE)-MB working group on MPA's.
  • 14.30-15.00: Connectivity between MPA's.
    Galice Hoarau, University of Bodo (NO)
  • 15.00-15.30: Socio-economic valuation of ecosystem services in an MPA context.
    Dolf de Groot, Wageningen University (NL)
  • 16.00-17.00:Debate

Han Lindeboom - NL

http://www.wewur.wur.nl/popups/vcard.aspx?id=LINDE028&lang=uk Han Lindeboom

Prof.dr. Han Lindeboom is directorate member science at IMARES, Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies in The Netherlands. Since 2008 he is a professor at the university of Wageningen. As marine ecologist his main interest is dynamics of marine ecosytems with emphasis on natural variations and effects of longterm disturbances (natural and antropogenic). He aspires for more scientific input in the sustainable management of the seas. He has a special interest in marine spatial planning concerning MPA's, windframs, sustainable fisheries....

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The use of the ecosystem approach in designing and monitoring MPAs (with focus on fisheries)

Esben Olsen - Norway - MB

http://www.imr.no/om_havforskningsinstituttet/ansatte/o/esben_moland_olsen/en Esben Olsen

Dr.Esben Olsen is a senior scientist at the institute of Marine Research in Norway. His main research interest is the reproduction and life history of marine species and how environmental changes or disturbances affect these traits. At this moment he focuses on the potential of marine protected areas for countering the negative effects of fishing on population dynamics. He is the Chairperson of the Marine Board working group on MPA's. The vision of this working group is "To develop a roadmap for introducing a network of MPAs so that Europe can meet its commitments under the UN-CBD, regional agreements and Natura 2000 Network system, and achieve good environmental status for its marine waters"

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Representativity of the North Sea MPA network

Xavier Harlay – Fr


Xavier Harlay Dr.Xavier Harlay is science officer at the French Marine Protected Areas Agency, France. He is in charge of the collect and presentation of data for setting up and creating a special marine protected area in the Eastern English Channel, off the Pas-de-Calais and Somme coast. This project is called, “Marine Nature Park”. In this preserved area, the activities will be managed by a management council.

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Spatial planning of MPAs: resolving conflicts between users

Torsten Schulze - UK


Torsten Schulze Torsten Schulze is doctor at the Johann Heinrich Von Thünen Institut in Germany. His research focussed on the marine food web and fish biology. He focuses now on pathways to sustainable management of the marine environment.

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The design and monitoring of MPAs in a changing environment

Michel Kaiser - UK

Michel Kaiser http://www.sos.bangor.ac.uk/staff/php/staffdetails1.php?person=0002

Michel Kaiser is professor at the School of Ocean Science at Bangor University, leader of the research group Marine Ecosystems: Conservation and Resource Management. He is specialized in benthic ecology. His research interest focuses on the effects of human activities on marine ecosystems and communities and how humans respond to the management measures used to restrain these activities. Four themes that describe his work are: ecosystem effects of fishing, sustainable aquaculture, disturbance ecology and socio-economic and biological issues relevant to coastal systems management.

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Connectivity between MPAs Galice Hoarau

Galice Hoarau – NO


Galice Hoarau is professor in Marine Molecular Ecology at Bodo regional University, Norway. He's an expert in the field of molecular ecology, conservation genetics and molecular evolution of marine organisms.

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Socio-economic valuation of ecosystem services in an MPA context Dolf de Groot

Dolf de Groot – Nl


Dolf de Groot is Associate Professor and Leader of the Research Program on Integrated Environmental Assessment in Regional Planning and Management with the Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University. His interest area is integrated assessment and valuation of ecosystem functions, goods and services. Other important research interests deal with global change issues, especially the effects of climate change on natural ecosystems and biodiversity. He was one of the initiators of the Climate Change and Biosphere (CCB) Research Centre.

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Key stone species such as important benthic ecosystem engineers as a tool to implement the ecosystem approach to marine management.

Marijn Rabaut - BE

Marijn Rabaut http://www.marinebiology.ugent.be/index.php?option=com_imis&module=person&persid=7754

Dr. Marijn Rabaut is a marine ecologist at the department on Marine Biology of the University of Ghent with experience in benthic research and conceptual framework development for marine protected areas (MPAs). He focuses on beam trawl fisheries and habitat structuring benthos. He aims to merge experimental information with theoretical insights to create ideas on marine conservation and fisheries management. This will contribute to concepts in marine spatial concepts in marine spatial management. He is actively working on the application of a generic framework for the monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed areas (within the EU FP7 project MESMA). Marijn Rabaut is a member of the MB working group on MPA’s.

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Gert Verreet

Gert Verreet - BE

Gert Verreet is a Policy Advisor at Flemish government - Environment, Nature and Energy Department were he is involved in greening of the economy, eco-innovation, multilateral water issues & marine issues. In 2005-2009 he was a Marine policy officer at the European Commission, acting as desk officer for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC, strongly involved with interfacing between the (environmental) marine strategy and maritime policy and in the relations with the OSPAR Convention.

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A debate will be developed on how to use the presented scientific insights in a solid MPA policy. The symposium is particularly interesting as it will stimulate consultation between national and European policy makers, NGOs and scientists.

Moderator: Gert Verreet

  • Geert Raeymaeckers (FOD Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment of the Belgian Marine Environment Policy administration)
  • Marijn Rabaut (University of Ghent :department Marine Biology; member of Marine Board-ESF working group on MPA’s)
  • Esben Olsen (Institute of Marine Research in Norway, member of Marine Board-ESF working group on MPA’s )
  • Haitze Siemers (European Commission: Maritime Policy Baltic and North Sea, Maritime affairs and fisheries)
  • Thomas Rammelt (Stichting De Noordzee)