About Marine Policy

Marine Policy encompasses concepts such as marine affairs, marine economics and resource management, political science, marine science, human ecology, international law, and human and physical geography. For effective marine management and conservation, marine policy must take into account human economic development activities and sustainable use of marine resources.

List of Dissertations

The following are the abstracts from past dissertations at the University of Gibraltar.

The concept of Green Port as a driver of positive change for both local and international level and possible implementation in Gibraltar

Riccardo Fornasari

To date, almost everything we buy has been first produced in other countries and then transported to us by ship. In the last decades, the shipping sector has grown significantly and it is predicted that will continue to do so, as well as its environmental impact and emissions. Increasingly large ports, very often located within cities, play a fundamental role within the shipping sector but their activities are associated with serious and different kinds of problems affecting the local level, but also the international: in fact, matters tied to climate change and people’s health are related to port’s activities adverse effects. In addition to this, they can also bring negative influence on the daily quality of the life of port cities citizens and affect the biodiversity in the proximity of ports. Green ports are those ports that aim to balance economic development and the impact of their activities, causing minimal damage to the environment and society. Their diffusion would allow alleviating local problems that affect the host community and the surrounding natural environment, but not only: green ports can be, in fact, entities able to influence the entire shipping sector, facilitating its greener transition in various ways. Despite the efforts, the diffusion of green ports remains, particularly in certain regions of the world, limited, as well as the knowledge and awareness of the general public on this topic. The Strait of Gibraltar is one of the busiest in the world in terms of passing ships, and there are several ports, located in different countries, in this area. As the case study of this project, the Port of Gibraltar was chosen, of which various aspects were researched, all united by the aim to gain clues and investigate sub-topics to answer the question: “Can the Port of Gibraltar achieve greater sustainability?”. In particular, were researched, through a common perception survey, how the local port was perceived by the citizens of Gibraltar, which criticalities they identify related to the port’s activities and how they affect their daily life and their level of knowledge on the adverse effects of the ports. In addition to this, the project wanted to investigate, through interviews with three stakeholders of the sector, how realistically would be the implementation of solutions and technologies, methods of mitigation, or more sustainable practices within the Port of Gibraltar. In the event that from the interviews emerged that these practices will not be achievable, the project wanted to research the reasons, what are the barriers, and what nature they are, that prevent the attainments of greater level of sustainability of the Port of Gibraltar. The conclusions of the project showed that the Port of Gibraltar has over the years partly tried to reduce its impact and has achieved an important goal such as the possibility of providing cleaner fuel. Despite this, its influence on the life of the host community is evident, as there are still many elements on which the Port of Gibraltar should work and improve its sustainability. What seems to be missing is primarily a long-term vision of clear goals to be achieved, while other important elements indicate the presence of knowledge and willingness to reduce its impact both for local and international level and increase its sustainability.
Keywords: Green ports, Port of Gibraltar, Sustainability, Common Perception Survey, Stakeholders, Interviews, Green Transition.
Primary Supervisor:      Dr Awantha Dissanayake
Second Supervisor:      Sara Méndez Roldan, Ramboll

Review of Marine Management in UK Overseas Territories: A Roadmap for Gibraltar

Natalie Coles

Marine ecosystems provide essential goods and services which support human life. As global populations have been increasing, so has the exploitation of marine environments, which when combined with the impacts of anthropogenic induced climate change, has caused shifts in the function of marine ecosystems. Climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies have been implemented globally, to manage the issues resulting from these environmental changes. Adaptation strategies aim to reduce the vulnerability of marine ecosystems to the impacts of climate change, or other anthropogenic stressors, by increasing their adaptive capacity. The UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) are home to 90 % of the UKs biodiversity and represent the fifth largest marine area in the world. Gibraltar is a UKOT located in the in the Western Mediterranean and considered a biodiversity hotspot due to the meeting of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, the data on the marine environments and their management in Gibraltar is limited. Additionally, Gibraltar is not part of the UKs Blue Belt Programme, which was launched to enhance marine protection across the UKOTs. This study therefore aims to bridge knowledge gaps for Gibraltar, through a critical review of UK and UKOT marine management policies. The synthesis of qualitative data from the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership reports and critical literature review found sea surface temperature rise, sea level rise and ocean acidification to be the main climatic drivers for Gibraltar. Fishing, invasive non-indigenous species and pollution were found to be the greatest anthropogenic threats. A Rapid Vulnerability Assessment (RVA) for two habitats in Gibraltar, rocky intertidal shores and natural and artificial reefs illustrate both habitats are most vulnerable to sea surface temperature rise and their adaptive capacity to cope with change is moderate. Key managements recommendations proposed by the study include conducting RVA for additional habitats, implementing long term monitoring and utilising information from other UKOT stakeholders.

Mind the Gap: Bridging the biodiversity framework gap in effectiveness evaluation for micro Marine Protected Areas

Sarah Goh

The health of our marine ecosystems are continually threatened by anthropogenic impacts, causing irreversible damage, potentially destabilising the blue economy and ecosystem goods and services derived from the ocean. Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a long-standing management approach that has been employed for sustainable and equitable marine conservation. At present, the focus has been on increasing ocean floor area protection which is not an accurate measure of the true conservation value afforded by MPAs. This gap can be narrowed by using biodiversity outcomes as a proxy measure of conservation value and MPA effectiveness. When biological outcomes are the fundamental priority, then adaptive management, a biodiversity-centric management approach, can be applied to refine MPA management processes to yield a higher conservation value. Current effectiveness evaluation frameworks are “one size fits all”, with some showing favour towards larger MPAs (> 100 km2). However, as external pressures and area constrains differ, large and small MPAs should be evaluated differently. At present, approximately 70 % of MPAs are smaller than 10 km2 (micro MPAs), but their effectiveness have rarely been evaluated. In the bid to achieve IUCN’s goal of 30 % of marine area coverage by 2030, advocating for the effectiveness evaluation of smaller MPAs should be a key strategy to determine the quality of marine area coverage.This study sought to address the science-based biodiversity outcome gap for three purposes: (1) as a proxy measure of the true conservation value of an MPA and
effectiveness, (2) customise an effectiveness framework for micro MPAs (< 10 km2) for a  biodiversity-centric effectiveness assessment of smaller MPAs and (3) promote the adaptive management approach in MPAs.

Investigation of Policies and Best Practices for the Implementation of the Reduction of Ship Emissions and Low Emission Areas Via Operational and Technical Measures

Chynara Kamalova

International shipping plays an important role in the global world economy. Over 80% of international trade travels by water, and in recent years its negative impact on the environment has received increased attention. One major focus is on greenhouse gases; maritime traffic is estimated to release roughly 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually, or about 2.5 % of global greenhouse gas emissions, directly contributing to global warming. In addition, ships emit NOx, SOx, PM2.5 and PM10 among others directly into the atmosphere. These emissions in particular are linked to cardiac illnesses and early mortality and are estimated to contribute to up to 80 000 premature deaths worldwide annually. The problem of ship emissions is recognised on a global scale, and scientists and policy-makers have been continuously seeking ways to mitigate its negative environmental impacts efficiently and cost-effectively.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialised organisation of the United Nations that controls shipping safety and mitigates marine and atmospheric pollution caused by ships. Some of it and its global partners’ proposed and implemented approaches to minimise shipping emissions are through legislation, such as EEDI, MEPC and SEEMP, operational and technical measures and abatement technologies such as scrubbers, EGRS, and SCR. One of the most significant maritime emission legislation adopted by the IMO establishes Emission Control Areas (ECAs) or Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs), implemented under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI. ECA regulations require that ships use low sulphur fuel, decrease speed, and employ abatement technologies when in certain areas in order to cut emissions.
The aim of this dissertation is to investigate policies and best practices for the reduction of ship emissions and the impact of low emission areas on emissions via operational and technical measures. This dissertation examines the issues and solutions for reducing emissions from the shipping industry and compliance with ECA restrictions using abatement technologies inside its territory. Shipowners should employ the available approaches, calculation techniques, and emission reduction strategies to comply with the ECA-specific emission reduction rules.
Keywords: Ship emission, ECAs, Abatement technologies, Operational and Technical measure

Defining healthy rocky reefs: Conservation tools to provide advice for effective, sustainable marine management

Natalie Muirhead-Davies

Tools for managing multi-use areas of the marine environment have been fast developing in recent years as the need for sustainable use has become better recognised. Europa Reef, situated within Gibraltar’s Southern Waters’ Special Area of Conservation (SAC)/Specially Protected Area (SPA), is an area of multiple representative habitats including rocky reef, sublittoral coarse sediment, and submerged sea caves. The reef is exposed to high energy currents and constant mixing of waterbodies where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet. The combination of currents and diversity of habitats has created an area of high productivity, the biological overspill from which may be important to maintaining the Mediterranean Sea’s biomass. Europa Reef, however, is also exposed to various acting pressures of anthropogenic source which are currently underassessed.
By exploring good practice from around the world and examining the tools used to facilitate successful protection measures through a systematic literature review and Gibraltar’s publicly available monitoring and management programmes, deficiencies in the current marine protection strategy were identified. Once identified, a tool that aims to bridge the gap and fits the unique requirements of British Gibraltar’s Territorial Waters (BGTW) was designed and adapted using the most effective frontline methods. The first overall characterisation of Europa Reef was conducted by defining the present features and all known acting pressures. Conflict between these pressures and the local marine features were highlighted through collection of evidence and a sensitivity assessment was given. Only two pressures could confidently be assessed based on evidence availability; collision between cetaceans and commercial vessels and underwater noise pollution. The tool has the potential to be used to improve management and monitoring programmes to future proof Europa Reef, paving the way for further assessment but a severe deficiency in monitoring data is currently a limiting factor which could be improved.
Keywords: Conservation tools, Conservation advice, Multi-use, Conflict assessment, Rocky reef, Conceptual framework, Marine Management

Climate change and coastal tourism: Pioneering a metric for hotel environmental sustainability, in Gibraltar

Jasmin Plummer

Gibraltar’s economy is supported by tourism, which facilitates employment and revenue within the small peninsula. Tourism is associated with many environmental impacts and hotels are a crucial sector, which represent a highly measurable area of the tourism industry. Hotels consume considerable amounts of energy, freshwater, and resources, yet lack standardised methods to monitor and report on performance. It is essential to become environmentally sustainable, this would allow society to continue to reap economic benefits from tourism and preserve the destinations that make tourism possible for the benefit of future generations. This research focusses on determining the current and historic (2016 to 2022) environmental performance of hotels within Gibraltar by reviewing available data regarding energy, freshwater, resource efficiency, and emissions. The hotel data is scrutinised against global sustainability best practice, scientific literature, and sustainably accredited hotel chains. The research aims to develop a numeric sustainability reporting metric for each section of environmental performance, which can be used by businesses and consumers for comparative purposes. The metric is in terms of impacts per person per night (pppn), which may facilitate improved relationships between consumers and their environmental impacts. By reporting on environmental metrics, businesses can achieve corporate transparency and facilitate a wider understanding of their relationships with the environment across all stakeholders. Increased understanding is the first step to performance improvement and transformation to a sustainable future. Within recent available data, energy use ranges from 13 to 37 kWh pppn, freshwater ranges from 0.15 to 0.17 m3 pppn, and emissions range from 11 to 27 kg CO₂e pppn. Waste and resource efficiency lacked data. This research is the first to assess the environmental performance of hotels in Gibraltar. Hotels in Gibraltar are operating unsustainably across all sectors. True environmental sustainability can only be achieved with multi-stakeholder engagement. A number of suggestions are made to improve the environmental performance of the hotels and determines what steps are required to achieve true sustainability in Gibraltar’s hotels.
Keywords: Hotel Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Performance, Business Sustainability, Environmental Management, Sustainability Metric.

Conversations about Conservation: Strengthening Marine Protected Areas through Decentralised Governance Approaches and the Scaling-up of Human Dimensions

Kellie Rana

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are touted as a valuable conservation strategy, providing numerous benefits including protecting endangered species, increasing food security, generating tourism revenue, creating alternative livelihoods, and having applicability as a fisheries management tool. Despite the substantial increase of MPAs over the past decade, most are considered to be ‘paper parks’, meaning that they are implemented on paper but are not enforced or managed properly, resulting in the failure of the MPA in meeting its objectives. A major contributing factor to this failure is the lack of consideration for socio-economic factors in the MPA process, especially in centralised (state-based) governed MPAs. Over half of the global population lives in or near coastal areas, and these communities largely depend on marine ecosystems for food and their livelihoods. Often, MPAs are located in areas that communities fish in, causing tension and conflicts due to the restrictions imposed on people. Thus, this frequently results in a lack of compliance, support for the MPA, loss of trust in authorities, and decreased community empowerment. Centrally-governed MPAs usually prioritise biodiversity outcomes whereas most comanaged or community-based MPAs prioritise social well-being in conjunction with conservation. In this research, it was found that MPAs with decentralised governance regimes like co-management or community-based, were more successful in achieving biodiversity and socio-economic outcomes than government-led ones. In fact, many centralised MPAs are starting to shift towards being more inclusive and participatory, with many already experiencing success such as Luiz Saldanha Marine Park in Portugal or Mafia Island Marine Park in Tanzania. While co-management is not a panacea for all MPAs, it is conclusive that including local communities and stakeholders like fishers, indigenous peoples, and women are crucial in not only achieving MPA success but in sustaining it long-term.

Scientific Posters

Thematic leader

Dr Awantha Dissanayake
Head of School (Marine Science)