Science for Impact @ ODEMM

The Options for Delivering Ecosystem-Based Marine Management was a European Commission 7th framework funded project (2010 to 2013). ODEMM focused on the structure, tools and resources required to choose and evaluate management options that are based on the principles of Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) for the Marien Strategy Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive, the European Commission Blue Book and the Guidlines for the Integrated Approach to Maritime Policy. The approach proposed is one which can translate policy driver objectives to an operational process of creating, appraising and choosing management options to inform decision makers.

What was the problem?

Although it is already well known that human activities can have a severe impact on marine ecosystems, management of these activities is fragmented and approaches vary across countries and institutions. In the EU, the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) deals with the implementation of an ecosystem approach to marine environmental management. It requires EU Member States to prepare national strategies to achieve Good Environmenal Status by 2020, and it is important that this is carreid out in a away that supports the objectivesof the Marine Stratege and the Habitants Directive. The challenge then is to investigate and quantitatively evaluate, specify and propose options and actions for a gradual transition from the current fragmented management of these activities to mature integrated management, including strategies for the Implementation of the ecosystem approach at regional level. One of the tools concerns governance models and options.

What did we do?

Within the ODEMM-project an approach was developed that first allows identification of key human activities or sectors, ecological components and ecosystem services – and the linkages between them, to identify the main threats to reaching good environmental status. This forms the basis of identifying possible management options and to consider the trade-offs faced between different management strategies. To inform the implementation of an ecosystem approach and management options to achieve ecosystem based management, the relevant governance settings and how these might influence performance in achieving the EBM goals, at both a broad and specific (e.g. Management Option Evaluation) level should be investigated as well. The Environmental Policy Group, together with the IMARES institute, the Innovative Fisheries Management institute of Aalborg University and Marine Law and Ocean Policy Research Services Ltd contributed to this governance analysis.

The governance analysis started with a review of the existing governance setting and stakeholder groups involved in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. A participatory and mixed methods approach was then developed and used to identify governance models and options, see figure below.

Figure 1: Overview of stakeholder involvement in the different steps of the ODEMM approach.


Figure 2: ODEMM conceptual framework.


What happened?

After the review, the ‘ODEMM governance team’ identified the main driving forces in the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Using these driving forces, 5 exploratory strategic scenarios were developed and tested through an online survey that was sent to 650 stakeholders in 18 EU and 5 non-EU countries (response rate was 37%). Based on the outcome of the survey the scientific team developed four ideal-type governance models which were discussed during 4 focus groups with experts from respectively the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. During the focus groups a SWOT analysis was undertaken to score the 4 ideal type governance models and participants could come with their preferred combination of governance models.  A fifth focus group was organised in Brussels with participants from all regional seas as well as European stakeholders. The main question at this meeting was on how to create decision making structures for ecosystem based management in different regional seas. The last phase of the participatory approach was the development of a policy brief which was subsequently presented in four interactive ODEMM roadshows with stakeholders. During these roadshows also the results of the other components of the project were discussed with stakeholders.

Who did we influence?

Throughout the process, many stakeholders have been involved especially through the focus groups and roadshows where direct interaction between the members of the ODEMM consortium and stakeholders took place. These stakeholder originated from science, advisory bodies, interest groups, branch organization or policy making institutions. These meetings served as deliberative moments for reflection for both the ODEMM scientists as well as for the stakeholders. We choose to organize separate focus groups and roundtables for each of the four European seas to allow context-specific input to be of value in the discussions. Not only were we as scientists able to learn and gain feedback from the participants, also the participants themselves were able to probe, argue and challenge each other. In addition, the participants of the focus groups and roundtables were not always part of the ‘regular’ crowd of experts. Participants met new stakeholders through the ODEMM project, allowing for fresh insights and exchanges of views. 

Want to read more?

For a reflection on this participatory approach, read:

Marloes Kraan, Astrid Hendriksen, Luc van Hoof, Judith van Leeuwen, Charlène Jouanneau, (2014) How to dance? The tango of stakeholder involvement in marine governance research, Marine Policy, Volume 50, Part B, December 2014, Pages 347-352, ISSN 0308-597X,