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The PISCES Guide

A guide to implementing the ecosystem approach through the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

PISCES (Partnerships Involving Stakeholders in the Celtic Sea Ecosystem) has brought together stakeholders from the Celtic Sea to develop this practical guide on implementing the ecosystem approach in the context of the European Union (EU) Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Co-funded by LIFE+, the project ran from 2009 to 2012. It was led by WWF-UK in partnership with WWF-Spain and The Environment Council, with country technical support from the Coastal and Marine Research Centre in Ireland and SeaWeb in France.

The Celtic Sea

The Celtic Sea, in the north-east Atlantic Ocean (see map below), has a long maritime heritage and supports many economically significant industries and activities. It is an extraordinarily productive sea, hosting varied habitats and a wealth of biodiversity (including many commercially important species). However, the growing demand for finite marine space and resources is causing increasing conflict between stakeholders, and threatening the health of marine environment on which so many depend. PISCES stakeholders have an alternative vision for the Celtic Sea: one in which marine industries flourish, communities prosper and the environment is healthy.

The Celtic Sea
“The Celtic Sea (English), An Mhuir Cheilteach (Irish), Y Môr Celtaidd (Welsh), An Mor Keltek (Cornish): Ar Mor Keltiek (Breton), La mer Celtique (French), O mar Céltico (Galician), Keltiko Itsaso (Basque) and El Mar Céltico (Spanish)”

The Celtic Sea

The PISCES project worked with stakeholders from within an area of the Celtic Sea as shown in the diagram (the Celtic Sea project area).,The Celtic Sea project area broadly coincided with the southern component of the Celtic Seas sub-region as described in the MSFD (i.e. it did not include waters off western Scotland, western Ireland or the Irish Sea). In practice the boundaries were considered ‘fuzzy’ because PISCES was primarily concerned with exploring broad principles and issues associated with a transnational, high-use sea area, rather than specific boundaries.

The ecosystem approach and the MSFD

The ecosystem approach is a way of making decisions in order to manage our activities sustainably. The MSFD requires EU countries to develop marine strategies based on the ecosystem approach. Implemented in the right way, the ecosystem approach could help to ensure we have viable marine industries, prosperous coastal communities and a healthy marine environment for generations to come. PISCES stakeholders want to ensure this happens in the Celtic Sea, and play a vital role in the process.

How the guide was developed

This guide is the result of a unique partnership involving stakeholders from the Celtic Sea. With a focus on sea users, a committed multinational, cross-sectoral group of volunteers was directly involved in determining the objectives, scope and content. It reflects their views, needs, aspirations and vision for the area. We held five stakeholder workshops across the region (in England, Wales, Ireland, France and Spain) with 46 participants. We collected additional information through literature research, interviews, questionnaires and other sources. This guide also benefited from the contributions of an advisory group of international experts (working in the fields of marine policy, management, the ecosystem approach and stakeholder engagement) and from comments from a range of other individuals across Europe (representing government, sea-users, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), universities and others).

An innovative approach

PISCES has been the first opportunity for people who use, work, live by or enjoy the Celtic Sea to translate policy into practical recommendations. The approach has helped to increase knowledge, build trust between sectors and create a powerful voice for Celtic Sea stakeholders.

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