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Potential benefits of a Celtic Seas forum

For stakeholders, a Celtic Seas forum would be an opportunity to engage directly with other stakeholders from a range of sectors and countries.

During the PISCES project, stakeholders recognised the benefits of working with others to explore interactions and conflicts, understand different perspectives, and gain knowledge about other sectors’ activities (see Box 11). Involvement in PISCES also strengthened networks both within and between sectors. It became clear that it is possible to move beyond preconceptions about competing or opposing activities to identifying shared objectives and aims. In this way, a forum could help to forge a stronger Celtic Sea identity.

Box 11: Example stakeholder perceptions of the benefits of participating in PISCES

“PISCES enabled us to understand how each activity impacts each other and the sea. It helped to establish trust between the many different groups involved and I found the whole process a rewarding experience.”

“PISCES was a great chance for Celtic Sea users to get together and discuss their sector’s needs and concerns.”

“PISCES allows us to meet people and organisations we do not necessarily always meet.”

"It was a unique opportunity to interact with other stakeholders in a free environment where you can really express your views, and there is nothing at stake but just to try and work better together.”

"It’s great to be with stakeholders who have a lot of information and knowledge of what’s going on, and we’re all coming here to share the objective that there are real advantages to us all if we can get ecosystem-based management right.”

A Celtic Seas forum would also provide a conduit through which stakeholders could communicate views and concerns to governments on implementation of the MSFD as well as other policy areas. Views based on multi-sector discussion and agreements are likely to be far more powerful than those coming from a single sector.

Governments (particularly competent authorities) would benefit from engaging a broad and representative spectrum of marine sectors easily and efficiently. The complexity of marine systems creates numerous relationship structures and networks at different scales. Working through a single organised structure would save time and money. A multi-sector forum will help identify and negotiate conflicts and solutions, which will help governments to implement the MSFD and other marine policy.

Importantly, a Celtic Seas forum could perform a valuable role in supporting regional coordination as required under the MSFD. This will be especially useful where interests and activities span national boundaries, as is expected to be the case for fishing, litter and noise. It could also support the development of fishery and marine protected area management plans, and other marine policy processes.

The forum could be an ideal platform from which to promote marine issues. With adequate funding and support, it could raise awareness of the importance of participation, cooperation and the ecosystem approach (e.g. workshops, branding and marketing campaigns, and competitions to reward innovative thinking and actions).

Over the longer term, input to all relevant marine policy issues could be channelled through the forum: a ‘consult once, use the response many times’ approach. This would help to reduce the real and growing issue of stakeholder fatigue, which will only be exacerbated in the future with the anticipated expansion in marine plans, marine protected area networks and fishery management plans.

PISCES Workshop 5, Madrid

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