SIMCelt was a two-year cross-border project involving partners from the UK, Ireland and France. It's objectives were to support co-operation between EU Member States on the implementation of the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Directive in the Celtic Seas. SIMCelt focussed on informing practical aspects of MSP implementation, with a specific focus on transboundary co-operation. The project involved both academic and government partners from each country, and built upon existing mechanisms for transboundary working to increase co-operation, reduce cross-sectoral conflict and promote the development of coherent MSP by Member States within the Celtic Seas.
The SIMCelt project worked towards the implementation of MSP in the Celtic Seas, which must be established by 2021. High quality maritime spatial data and information is a key element for implementing MSP and so a data analysis report was required to be produced in order to give a description of the current data needs and gaps, and to identify any challenges and opportunities associated to data and information in support of transboundary MSP in the Celtic Seas. This Data Analysis Report needed to contain as much relevant information as possible on the current state of and data available on the marine environment of the Celtic Seas, and therefore benthic habitat information was required to complete this report. Authors of the report, identified EMODnet Seabed Habitats' broad-scale habitat maps (EUSeaMap 2016) as the best data source to represent marine benthic habitats in the Celtic Sea.The data were easily accessible, and in a standardised format which was INSPIRE compliant, therefore allowing for any transboundary or transnational implementation. Another advantage of EUSeaMap to the users was that only one reference layer was required for the whole project area. The users compiled an inventory of available datasets that could be readily used for a proposed MSP in the Celtic Sea, which the benthic habitat data fed into. Additional EMODnet datasets were used, including biological characteristics, human activities and bathymetry. This compilation was reviewed for any assets, barriers and first improvement propositions, with the final data analysis report and inventory setting the baseline of a portal demonstrator for the SIMCelt project, in order to enhance data accessibility.
EMODnet Seabed Habitat datasets fed into an inventory of available data for the Celtic Seas area for use in implementing MSP, in line with Directive 2014/89/EU.The aim of MSP is to reduce conflicts between sectors and create synergies between different activities, encourage investment by creating predictability, transparency and clearer rules, to increase cross-border co-operation between EU countries (e.g. to develop energy grids, shipping lanes, pipelines, coherent networks of protected areas) and to protect the environment through early identification of impact and opportunities for multiple use of space. SIMCelts' focus on achieving this within the Celtic Seas has led to this report with a clear intention to create awareness and give users a greater understanding of the range of factors potentially impacting the marine area within the Celtic Seas, therefore better informing aspects which must be taken into account when producing spatial plans.