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The University of Liverpool’s Marine Management Group develops ecosystem-based measures to safeguard the world’s seas and oceans and enable sustainable maritime development. Their research has led to change in policy and practice by mobilising stakeholders for the governance of the Irish Sea and developing tools for implementing national marine legislation.



The world’s seas and oceans are under pressure from climate change, pollution and growing human demands. The team’s research aims to improve human interaction with the sea, bringing the social and natural sciences into direct engagement with government and wider society.



The research began with an interdisciplinary seminar series organised by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council, titled 'New Approaches to Managing Ecosystem Services in the Marine Environment.' Five seminars brought together UK academics from the natural and social sciences with planning and management stakeholders.

Additional projects were led by University of Liverpool academics. These stressed that ecosystem-based marine management and planning require not just technical solutions, but also integration with legislative and policy frameworks and the close involvement of stakeholder communities.



Researchers have worked directly with government agencies and stakeholders to develop practices to manage marine resources in a more sustainable way. These practices have been internalised by organisations which are now carrying them forward in the implementation of national and international policy. This is producing material outcomes in four marine areas: the Irish Sea, the North Sea, the Northeast Atlantic and South Africa’s seas.

The research has mobilised stakeholders in the governance of the Irish Sea through stakeholder-informed Marine Conservation Zones, and the Irish Sea Maritime Forum.

The researchers have also developed tools to enable national agencies to manage their marine resources in the context of two legislative frameworks: the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive and South Africa’s Marine Spatial Planning Act. For example, the pressure assessment tool enables decision makers to identify the key human pressures acting on marine ecosystems and to achieve Good Environmental Status, outlined in the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive.


More information

Institution: University of Liverpool 

Researchers: Sue Kidd, Dr Leonie Robinson, Dr Stephen Jay

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) New policy-focused practices in marine ecosystem-based management. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>