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The need for communication

It is important that stakeholders communicate with others, for example, about their concerns, needs and plans. This can help to minimise or mitigate conflicts and impacts, or avoid them all together, particularly if undertaken early on (see case study 15). Communication between stakeholders can also lead to new opportunities. This might be through identifying mutually beneficial collaborations, or identifying successful initiatives that could be replicated and adopted more widely. Highlighting the benefits (financial, economic or otherwise) can help considerably in encouraging action in others.

“Communication through initiatives such as PISCES helps bring different stakeholders together that would never normally have an opportunity to engage in dialogue.” (Renewables sector)

Case study 15: Minimising conflict between yachting and offshore windfarm development

When development of offshore wind farms first began in UK waters, recreational boat users were concerned about the potential impacts on navigation and safety. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) took the proactive step of producing a position paper to outline these potential impacts and what steps could be taken in mitigation. The position paper is given to offshore wind developers in the early stages of the consent process and supports active communication between developers and boaters, through the RYA. It has since become a primary source of information when considering the impact of wind farms on recreational boating, and has resulted in changes to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency advice on offshore renewable energy installations.

Further information: www.rya.org.uk

It is also important that stakeholders communicate with governments. In general, governments prefer stakeholders to develop their own solutions rather than having to regulate. The key issue is to demonstrate that these voluntary actions are effective and show how they can help government to meet policy objectives (see Box 12).

Box 12: Communicating stakeholder actions in the Celtic Sea

During the PISCES project, stakeholders identified a wide range of existing initiatives and actions with potential to be replicated more widely. Examples included modifications to activities; environmental plans and strategies, codes of conduct, voluntary agreements; stakeholder forums; and data sharing. PISCES stakeholders recognised the benefits of developing a better understanding of how sustainable practices can help deliver the MSFD. They suggested using a matrix to compare the initiatives in a given area against the 11 GES descriptors, demonstrating the role of different activities and identifying gaps and cross-over (see the PISCES project website for more information www.projectpisces.eu). This approach could help governments and stakeholders identify which initiatives are helping deliver GES and what else needs to be done.

There is potential for voluntary measures to be directly incorporated into the MSFD programmes of measures. This may help attract long-term funding for implementation. Voluntary measures are not a quick fix; they take considerable resources and a long-term commitment. Practical experience has shown that voluntary measures are most effective when the potential exists for government action if objectives are not achieved.

Fishing boats

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