About pisces summary for Stakeholders September 2010

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Summary for Stakeholders
September 2010

To enable people who use the Celtic Sea to develop practical guidelines for delivery of an ecosystem-based approach to managing their marine environment. The guidelines will be formulated and developed by stakeholders, and will be applicable to the sectors operating in the Celtic Sea. The collaborative process of developing the guidelines will help to ensure that they are accepted by stakeholders as a set of steps to deliver holistic, integrated, ecosystem-based management. The intention is for a stakeholder-led approach and guidelines produced will be a flagship for other sea areas in Europe and beyond and will be used to influence future implementation of EU and national marine legislation.

PISCES Project Overview
PISCES is a three-year EC LIFE+ funded project that will develop practical guidelines for the delivery of an Ecosystem Approach to the management of marine activities in the Celtic Sea. The guidelines will be developed by a multisector, multinational group of Celtic Sea stakeholders and will inform day-to-day management of marine activities. The process of engaging stakeholders from across multiple sectors and countries using a ‘bottom-up’ approach is innovative and we will be advocating the lessons learnt through this project for future stakeholder engagement on EC and national legislation and its implementation. The development of practical guidelines by the stakeholders who are active in the area is more likely to result in effective management of the Celtic Sea based on a holistic and integrated approach.

The PISCES project focuses on three priority areas:

  • Developing practical guidelines for the ecosystem approach that will translate legal requirements (e.g. in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive) into practical actions.

  • Demonstrating the opportunities and best practice for working at a regional level both within the Celtic Sea and across Europe.

  • Evaluating practices / methods to involve stakeholders in the decision-making process.

We view PISCES as a project being delivered for and by the stakeholders of the Celtic Sea. WWF-UK, WWF-ES and The Environment Council are working in partnership with collaboration from SeaWeb and the Coastal & Marine Resources Centre to coordinate and facilitate the process. Together we make up the core PISCES management team.
The PISCES project depends on the involvement of a core group of stakeholders from England, Wales, Ireland, France and Spain, who represent a range of key activities that occur in the Celtic Sea. The stakeholder group includes representatives from shipping, ports, fishing, coastal tourism and recreation, mariculture, environmental statutory agencies, marine aggregates, renewable energy and undersea cables. Stakeholders have been selected that are well linked to networks within their sectors and have indicated a willingness to communicate PISCES to wider stakeholders. The group will have the opportunity to work collaboratively to develop guidelines for delivering the ecosystem approach based upon a shared understanding developed during the project. National and EU legislation is increasingly requiring this type of approach and those involved in the PISCES project will be at the forefront of translating policy into practical implementation. The core stakeholder group will then be in a position to advocate the lessons learnt to wider stakeholders in their sector and beyond.

An ecosystem approach is focused on the functions and interactions of the ecosystem in order to achieve sustainable use of natural resources whilst acknowledging that humans are an ‘integral component’ of the ecosystem. It involves the consideration of both natural resources and human well-being. It should result in a more fair and equitable future, where resources are available to humans without compromising the health of the environment. Implementation of the ecosystem approach is widely advocated as the solution to reversing the damage to the marine environment. It encourages a more holistic attitude to marine management and the ecosystem approach should result in a win-win for those that use the goods and services of the marine environment and for the species and habitats that are found there.
PISCES is the only example of a bottom-up, stakeholder-led project to identify practical steps for implementing an ecosystem approach to marine management across sectors and across countries around the Celtic Sea. The results of the project will be used as a flagship or example of best practice to influence methods of stakeholder engagement in the delivery of EU and national legislation and will highlight practical tools which are widely acceptable for delivery of an ecosystem approach.
The PISCES project gives stakeholders the ability to foster relations between sectors, across a number of different countries, and work collaboratively towards common goals and objectives to ensure a sustainable future for the use of the Celtic Sea. The successful development of this group of stakeholders could lead to future longer-term partnership working that will be beneficial to both industry and the environment.
The PISCES stakeholders will have a platform to share experiences across sectors and explore useful tools for delivering a more co-ordinated approach to management of activities in the Celtic Sea. The project will increase understanding of EU marine policy and marine spatial planning as well as trialling tools such as interactive mapping.
The project will give PISCES stakeholders a head start in terms of implementation of European legislation such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (that requires regional ecosystem-based management). PISCES creates the opportunity for stakeholders to demonstrate to policy makers and regulators an acceptable set of guidelines for delivering a stakeholder-led ecosystem approach to marine management. The acceptability of the guidelines to the stakeholders, and the sense of ownership that results, should potentially be recognised by governments as advantageous for successful implementation of EU marine policy, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and the achievement of Good Environmental Status by 2020. Involvement of individual stakeholders in the multisectoral PISCES project has the potential, therefore, to strengthen their influence on marine policy and its implementation.
The guidelines produced by the stakeholders during the PISCES project will define a practical, step-by-step approach to delivering a coordinated and holistic ecosystem approach. At the most strategic level the stakeholder group will define cross-sectoral guidelines as a strategy for delivering an ecosystem approach but they will also be further developed by each sector to understand the specific steps and actions that are required by that sector in the Celtic Sea to achieve the overarching guidelines. Commonalities and differences between sectors will be explored and resource gaps identified. The strategic guidelines and identified process for delivery for each sector will be developed specifically for the Celtic Sea but the model developed, comprising the guidelines and actions and the process of development, will have wider relevance and could be used in other sea areas to create similar sets of guidelines and actions for the specific circumstances found there.
The different components of the project: partnership working, greater influence, stakeholder engagement methods and practical guidelines, should create lasting benefits beyond the lifetime of the PISCES project. The scene will be set for delivery of a stakeholder-driven ecosystem approach in the Celtic Sea and the project methods and results will be advocated to other regions.


  • Increased expertise on delivering an ecosystem approach amongst stakeholders.

  • A set of stakeholder-agreed guidelines to inform delivery of an ecosystem approach to marine management in the Celtic Sea.

  • An effective stakeholder engagement strategy and identified techniques in order to influence future EC and Member State methods of engagement in policy and legislation development and delivery.

  • Guidelines are disseminated and accepted by wider stakeholders as a practical tool to deliver an ecosystem approach.

  • The guidelines and stakeholder engagement process in the PISCES project are used as a model for the delivery of an ecosystem approach in other marine regions.

  • Cross-sectoral relationships are established which assists the spread of PISCES results and methods into other sea areas.

A broad-ranging stakeholder group will be established

In order to develop a set of practical guidelines a stakeholder group needs to be established that represents the main sectors and has a spread across the countries involved. Involvement in the stakeholder group will increase the understanding of other sectors’ working practices and priorities and will allow for collaborative working. The stakeholder group will develop a commitment to the delivery of a healthy, well-managed ecosystem, where both marine wildlife and people’s livelihoods can flourish by developing an ecosystem approach to marine management in the Celtic Sea.

Stakeholders will increase their understanding of, and therefore level of expertise on, the ecosystem approach, EU policy and marine spatial planning

In order to develop a set of meaningful and practical guidelines the stakeholder group will be provided with information on the current thinking on delivery of an ecosystem approach. Stakeholders will also gain an insight into EU policy and legislation and marine spatial planning through a number of online workshops.

Different stakeholder engagement methods will be trialled and evaluated by stakeholders

The European Integrated Maritime Policy and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive have utilised traditional consultation processes, focusing predominantly on traditional methods such as online questionnaires, invitations to comment on documents, and via dialogue at conferences. It is clear that traditional methods and processes applied have been based on preconceived ideas and material, retaining a ‘top-down’ approach.

PISCES stakeholders will explore existing methodologies of stakeholder engagement and determine what they consider to be the most appropriate elements, using a ‘bottom-up’ approach that enables full participation and for all voices to be heard. We will constantly monitor and evaluate different methods including facilitation techniques and online versus in-person collaborative working to develop an effective and acceptable way of working.
A communications strategy is in place

The communication strategy addresses the stakeholder group and project team’s communication needs. The strategy sets out the main tools and activities to ensure effective dialogue between the stakeholder group that has the additional challenge of being geographically dispersed. Key to successful communication will be an external website (www.projectpisces.eu) and an intranet site (http://intranet.projectpisces.eu) where people can both receive and share information, opinions and ideas.

The strategy also details external communications to wider stakeholders (e.g. policymakers (EU and National), anyone working or operating in the Celtic Sea, local governments, marine projects, NGOs, research programmes and the general public). Our end goal is for widespread support and uptake of the final guidelines. The communications strategy sets out a framework to achieve this via public engagement, media activity, press releases, publications, e-news updates, events, online content and reciprocal promotion. The strategy is a top-level document and a communications plan detailing specific activities will be created every quarter (both available on the intranet). The PISCES stakeholder group plays an important role as ambassadors for their sector and will be invaluable in helping to promote and encourage uptake of the final guidelines.
Dialogue will be established and maintained with EC and national governments

The PISCES project has the potential to influence the methods of engagement used by the EC and national governments in implementing policy and legislation. It will also present a set of stakeholder-agreed guidelines that could be used in EU waters for the implementation of legislation such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The PISCES team will establish and maintain channels of communication with government officials in each of the countries involved, as well as with the European Commission, in order to keep them informed of the project development and outputs and demonstrate its value for implementation of marine legislation. The close links with government officials will also ensure that up-to-date information is passed on to the PISCES stakeholder group to keep them well informed.

This project has the support of influential EU-wide marine stakeholders, who have submitted letters of support. The OSPAR Commission, as the Regional Seas Convention responsible for the geographical area covered by PISCES, is also keen to observe and interact with the project and is represented on the PISCES Advisory Group. Its influence and outreach capability on a European scale will assist in the replication of the results in other areas of the EU. Influential individuals from Defra, DG MARE, DG ENV and the Marine Institute have also pledged their support and are closely watching the project.
The organisations involved in managing the PISCES project have strong influencing powers and a proven track record in political advocacy and achieving sustainable approaches through influencing governments. PISCES will harness these skills to ensure the project outputs are advocated to the right people to achieve maximum results.

Support for a stakeholder/integrated approach

The European Commission and national governments have indicated a willingness to increase stakeholder engagement in marine management as can be seen in marine protected area projects, marine planning projects and European fisheries management. Governments are seeking new ways to do this and PISCES represents an opportunity to present an accepted methodology for both stakeholder engagement and practical steps for delivery of Good Environmental Status (required under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive). Examples of EU interest for stakeholder engagement:

  • The EU Sustainable Development Strategy sets out a series of guiding principles that include environmental protection and the need for policy integration. These principles reflect a need for an ecosystem approach to managing human activities in order to achieve sustainable development goals.  The importance of stakeholder engagement is also highlighted within a number of the key principles of the Strategy.

  • The European Marine Strategy (EMS) develops the commitment made for the marine environment under the Sixth Environmental Action Plan. The EU considers the overall objective “to protect and restore Europe’s oceans and seas and ensure that human activities are carried out in a sustainable manner so that current and future generations enjoy and benefit from biologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas are safe, clean, healthy and productive” to be ambitious, requiring a new approach and principles such as a knowledge-based approach, an ecosystem approach, and a cooperative approach.

  • The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive is the legal tool that will require Member States to implement the environmental pillar of the EU Marine Strategy. Article 19 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive outlines provisions relating to public consultation and information.  The Marine Strategy Directive calls for cooperation between Member States in the development of regional strategies (Article 4).

PISCES Advisory Group will provide expert advice

The PISCES Advisory Group consists of a group of experts in the fields of marine policy, marine science, ecosystem approach and stakeholder engagement. This group will play a key role in reviewing and providing expert advice on the outputs of the project, such as commenting on drafts of guidelines. The Advisory Group consists of Dr Fanny Douvere (UNESCO), Professor David Johnson (OSPAR), Professor Laurence Mee (SAMS and KnowSeas), Diana Pound (Dialogue Matters), Dr Sian Prior (consultant), Dr David Reid (Marine Institute, Ireland) and Dr Simon Walmsley (WWF International). Further information on Advisory Group members can be found on our website:


Links will be developed and maintained with complementary projects

There are a number of projects that are looking at various elements of an ecosystem approach in the Celtic Sea and many place an increasing demand on the time of stakeholders for participation. Other projects have different objectives to PISCES, e.g. targeted at fisheries management or the creation of marine protected areas; however the findings and methods are of mutual interest. We have reciprocal representation on the respective Advisory Groups for the PISCES and KnowSeas* projects. PISCES will formulate clear links and working practices with other complementary projects and will act as a hub of information for the projects so that stakeholders have a clear view of the range of projects operating in the Celtic Sea area, so we can combat stakeholder fatigue.

*Information about related projects can be found on our website:

[Work is ongoing to develop a comparison matrix for the different projects that will then inform development of a working agreement between PISCES, MEFEPO, KnowSeas and MESMA. This will be available in September 2010.]

There are a number of examples of implementation guidelines for the ecosystem approach and a number of examples of areas around the world where communities are attempting to deliver this approach. However, none of these examples deal with both multiple sectors and multiple nationalities. The PISCES stakeholder group will evaluate the common themes of the different guidelines for the Ecosystem Approach and identify which are useful and appropriate (and acceptable) for them in the Celtic Sea area. The guidelines will be practical in nature, with a clear step-by-step process identified in order to deliver them. The PISCES project will demonstrate in a bottom-up way what stakeholders believe is most feasible and likely to succeed within the framework of an EA, in contrast to a more top-down, consultative process where stakeholders are given few options and few opportunities to influence what is handed down to them by policy makers.
Q. Who are the guidelines for?

A. The guidelines will be created by, and for, the multiple sectors involved in the marine area in order to guide operations. They will be developed for the ‘community’ who are active in the particular area to guide how their activities can deliver an ecosystem approach. The guidelines should identify the steps and actions needed to deliver an ecosystem approach to management, so as to take account of other activities and ecosystem functions and processes. The multisector agreement and practical nature of the guidelines should allow for their translation into management plans.

Although the guidelines are for the practical activities occurring in the marine and coastal area, they should also be useful for policymakers and government officials as acceptable steps and actions that can be translated into implementation of marine legislation.

Q. How could the PISCES outputs be used by governments?

A. Governments could use the results of the PISCES project to be better informed of stakeholders’ perceptions of practical guidelines that work and also on preferred types of engagement methods. Governments will need to consult stakeholders on delivering the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) using an ecosystem approach. PISCES will address many questions around the implementation of an ecosystem approach. As a result governments can identify appropriate styles of engagement and make use of the PISCES guidelines, which will demonstrate the practical ways that commercial interests can interact with other sea users and the ecosystem as a whole. This will inform the development of programmes of measures (required under the MSFD) to achieve Good Environmental Status and it is anticipated that this is more likely to be accepted and valued by stakeholders.

Q. Who else will use PISCES as a case study/best practice example?

A. Organisations like the North Sea Commission, OSPAR or Regional Advisory Councils will be able to use PISCES as a case study for cross-sectoral working and for the types of practical guidelines that are supported by stakeholders in order to inform development of similar examples in other sea areas. PISCES could potentially be useful for ICES as an example for considering wider ecosystem functions and activities in fisheries management. The President of the USA announced a new National Ocean Policy in July 2010, with strong emphasis on an ecosystem approach and stakeholder engagement. The methods for implementing this have yet to be determined and lessons learnt from the PISCES project could inform best practice for delivery.

Q. Are there different ‘levels’ of guidelines?

A. The guidelines will range from broad-scale, high level strategic guidelines, through to the short-term steps and actions necessary to begin the process of delivering an ecosystem approach to marine management. Milestones will be identified that lead to the overall goal of an ecosystem approach and actions will be identified to achieve these, as well as realistic timeframes for delivery and any challenges and knowledge gaps that could hinder delivery.

Q. How will science be integrated into PISCES?

A. There are a number of projects that are investigating the science that underpins the Ecosystem Approach and how this can be translated into policy. PISCES, in contrast, is focused on the translation of policy into practice. We want to understand the practical steps that those working in the marine environment are willing and able to take to meet the requirements of an ecosystem approach that is now enshrined in EU marine legislation. PISCES will draw upon the work of other projects that investigate the science behind this approach and will use the expertise of the PISCES Advisory Group to ensure our outputs are valid, accurate and replicable. PISCES is a stakeholder-led project to identify practical steps to translate policy into action. The stakeholders will also identify challenges and gaps in knowledge that they believe could hinder the delivery of the ecosystem approach and this will be used to inform governments of the areas of research that are necessary to achieve marine legislative objectives. PISCES complements other projects that are investigating the scientific basis for an ecosystem approach by road-testing concepts and principles with those who are involved in the day-to-day management of marine activities to develop practical actions for delivery.

Q.Will there be scientists on the stakeholder group?

A. It is important that the outputs of PISCES are scientifically valid and we hope to ensure this through the actions of the Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will continuously review the drafts of the stakeholder guidelines and will advise and guide the stakeholder group at workshops and events. In contrast, the role of the stakeholder group is to represent the interests of all the main activities and for this reason has been constituted from those active in the area. The stakeholder group also includes representatives from environmental statutory agencies in each of the countries who are linked to government policy and relevant science.

Examples of guidelines
Implementation guidelines for the ecosystem approach tend to follow a common format, for example:

  • Scoping phase to identify objectives

  • Indicators defined

  • Thresholds established

  • Risk analysis undertaken

  • Management strategy evaluated

  • Monitoring and evaluation processes established

The PISCES team are undertaking a review of the guidelines that already exist for different projects and activities around the world in order to inform development of the PISCES guidelines. The common themes from worldwide examples will be examined by the PISCES stakeholder group to determine their applicability and usefulness for the Celtic Sea. The stakeholders will use this to inform their consideration of the steps and actions necessary to deliver an ecosystem approach in the Celtic Sea.


  • May 2010: Official launch event

  • May 2010: Workshop 1: Understanding the Ecosystem Approach (UK)

  • Sep 2010: Workshop 2: Marine policy (online)

  • Oct 2010: Workshop 3: Marine Spatial Planning (online)

  • Nov 2010: Workshop 4: Guidelines - initial draft (Ireland)

  • Feb 2011: First revision disseminated

  • April 2011: Workshop 5: Guidelines - refining (France)

  • May 2011: Second revision disseminated

  • Jul - Sep 2011: Wider Celtic Sea stakeholders consulted on final draft

  • Sep 2011: Guidelines & responses peer reviewed by Advisory Group and other relevant experts including relevant government decision-makers

  • 31 Dec 2011: Final guidelines produced and disseminated to stakeholders

  • Jan 2012: Final event

  • Jun - Sep 2012: Final project reports published

  • Jun 2012: Dissemination of guidelines to wider stakeholders

This timeline can be found on the stakeholder intranet site: http://intranet.projectpisces.guwwfpices.nine.ch/display/PISCES/Timeline. Any future changes to dates will be announced here.

This project is being delivered by WWF-UK in partnership with The Environment Council and WWF Spain. With thanks to country technical support from SeaWeb in France and The Coastal & Marine Resources Centre in Ireland.

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