In undertaking marine planning, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is required by the Marine Policy Statement (MPS) to use the ecosystem approach, in particular to ensure that human pressures are kept within levels compatible with the achievement of environmental objectives. The aim of this study is to outline an operational framework that demonstrates how MMO can improve the implementation of the principles of the ecosystem approach in marine planning.
The need to manage crowded usage of sea waters involving activities with the potential for significant impacts on marine ecosystems (both positive and negative) is increasing. Equally, experience with the development and implementation of marine plans is also growing. It is expected that marine plan policies will become more specific and directional in order to account for the important goods and services derived from marine ecosystems and the multiple and cumulative impacts of human activities in these systems. Application of the ecosystem approach within marine planning will therefore become increasingly important in supporting sustainable development.