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Marine Spatial Planning for the JMA

Component 3 of the UNDP-JMA Standalone Demonstration Project the MSP for the JMA aims to develop a marine spatial planning (MSP) process that can form the basis for an agreed management strategy, with adopted decision-making and adaptive management mechanisms. This will be supported by efforts to: (a) build technical and management capacity that can undertake and maintain a marine spatial planning process; and (b) provide support and assistance in developing a centralised data and information system for the management of the JMA. A key feature of any MSP initiative is that it must address and resolve areas of incompatibility and conflict. MSP is based in social, institutional, legal and political threads and can therefore be a complicated process through which to achieve consensus. In addition, MSP takes into account spatial and temporal conditions, which require this tool to be relatively flexible in its application.

Applying MSP in an ECS context is even more complex due to the limitations placed on the coastal State to regulate the full range of activities and interests that operate in and around the waters adjacent to the specific area of continental shelf. In order to find the optimum way forward to manage the JMA, Mauritius and Seychelles need to explore the full range of measures available to them, and the consequences of applying those measures, even if, in some cases, those measures are as yet untested. In this way, Mauritius and Seychelles can test different management strategies to determine which may be the most appropriate and effective for the specific circumstances of the JMA. The key output from PHASE 1 of the MSP process for the JMA is a comprehensive “MSP Roadmap” that will guide the project’s MSP implementation, which will be in PHASE 2 of the project.

The Unique Situation of the MSP in the JMA

The JMA MSP is very unique being the first marine spatial plan over an extended continental shelf ECS area and is being managed using a joint management framework by two small island neighbouring states. This places the JMA and both Seychelles and Mauritius in a cutting-edge position to take the lead in piloting new mechanisms and strategies for such joint ECS management in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction and in the High Seas, to showcase and be the advocates for collaboration and cooperation to the African region and to the world.