AMP Toolbox

Step 1: Set the scene

Step 1 defines the current status, or baseline, through ecological, economic and social analysis, as well as analysis of the existing institutional, political and legal framework in marine affairs. The scope and direction of necessary interventions is then derived from comparing the baseline with the defined objective, for example, an environmental state defined as “good” by the MSFD. Potential problems and issues which need to be dealt with to achieve the given objective are also identified.

This step also aims at determining key sources of knowledge and finding any knowledge gaps, identifying stakeholders and getting an overview of all sorts of useful tools.

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Why is this step necessary?

Step 1 identifies the gaps between the current and desired situations as a starting point to explore first directions for bridging these gaps and for setting objectives. In order to build support from all parties involved, it is of the utmost importance to create a common understanding of the situation as it is and the goals to be achieved and to take opinions of different parties and interest groups into account.

Who should be engaged?

Both scientific and experiential knowledge are used to recognise and describe the current state (e.g. of the marine ecosystem) as well as to assess human activities, economic uses and social interests relevant to the policy. Accordingly, several actors and parties need to be involved in the process including scientists, local actors and stakeholders. In addition, a technical policy-making team is required to establish the linkages and lead the policy design.

How should this step be carried out?

Both scientific (evidence based) and non-scientific (experience based) knowledge are needed.

Key activities (not necessarily a step-by-step process)
Information on the activities

What should be the outcome?

The outcome of this step should be a description of the field(s) in which the policy needs to act including the issue(s) or problem(s) that need to be dealt with in order to achieve the objective(s). This is addition to clear definition of the objective(s) of the policy-to-be-developed as a guidance for possible measures to be chosen and/or designed in the following steps.

Further reading

Several problems or issues can be addressed with the AMP Toolbox, in this case marine litter in the Mediterranean and Black Sea is used as an example.

Information on the examples

Gather information and determine existing conditions” is the first activity, i.e. to acknowledge that there is a problem (i.e. overwhelming presence of plastics in the Mediterranean and Black Seas), that causes negative ecological (including ingestion by marine organisms) and socio-economic impacts (financial implications for the fishing sector and loss of tourism and related revenues) and that these merit further analysis and management strategies.

For this purpose, apart from experts a multi-sectoral engagement would be necessary (i.e. Regional, national and local authorities, Maritime sector, Tourism sector, Fisheries and aquaculture, Agriculture, Industry, and Civil society). Understanding the extent of the problem will help to create the “political will” and support for potential action. Therefore “Involve experts and stakeholders” is an instrumental activity.

It is also important to “Develop a mutual understanding and define principles and goals” such as:
  • reduce the amount and impact of land-based and sea-based sources of marine debris introduced into the sea;
  • reduce the amount and impact of accumulated marine debris on coastal and marine ecosystems.
Although adaptive policies might focus on setting goals and targets at the more local level; cooperation and coordination on a regional seas basis is an asset for a meaningful development and implementation of adaptive policies. Accordingly, the use of existing institutional structures such as the regional seas commissions and international organization should be promoted (see Institutional inventory database). Last but not least, legal and administrative obligations such as international agreements laws and regulations should be identified, with the aim of defining consistent objectives and strategies (see Legal inventory database). For more details see flag example.