Marine Spatial Planning for the Falkland Islands





1. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP): What is it?

2. The MSP Phase 1 "Foundation": The Darwin Plus project (July 2014-July 2016)

3. “Setting the scene” MSP workshop (Nov. 2014)

4. “Developing the tools” MSP workshop (April 2015)

5. Government supports the creation of MSP process and Plan December 2015

6. “Framing” MSP workshop (April 2016)

7. MSP GIS database

8. MSP webGIS – now online! March 2016

9. Sub-projects:

9.1. Key areas for marine megafauna

9.2. Whale recovery and sighing hotspots

9.3. Elicitation and mapping of cultural coastal values

9.4. Recreational boating areas

9.5. Marine biosecurity threat areas

9.6. Kelp beds

9.7. Spatially-explicit cetacean stranding database

9.8. Developing a research proposal to fill in dolphin distribution data gap

10. Public outreach

11. Scientific presentations

12. Links of interest about MSP

13. Blog posts by MSP team



Marine Spatial Planning (MSP): What is it?

  • Land use planning – for the sea!
  • "A process to develop a strategic plan for regulating, managing and protecting the marine environment that addresses the multiple, cumulative and potentially conflicting uses of the sea and achieves ecological, economic and social objectives""

The marine environment is very important to the Falkland Islands and its inhabitants because the current main economic activities are marine-based (commercial fishing and tourism) and people are closely linked to it for cultural reasons. The economic activities entirely rely on a healthy marine environment where fish can reproduce and grow and where wildlife attracting the tourists can thrive. Therefore, there is an intimate connection between managing the marine environment and ensuring the Falklands’ economy is sustainable and people can enjoy their favourite coastal places, in the long-term future.

The image below represents these connections in the Falklands:


The Falkland Islands currently have no marine spatial planning in place at the exception of temporary fishing closure areas. With an increasing level of human activities in the ocean around the Falkland Islands, in particular for oil exploration, but also for shipping traffic, commercial fishing, aquaculture, and tourism, the need to identify areas sensitive to risks and to manage sustainably the marine environment has been identified as a priority for the Falkland Islands Government. The Islands Plan 2014-18 states as an action to “Implement appropriate […] marine spatial planning frameworks to ensure the preservation and management of […] marine environments of the Falkland Islands”.




The MSP Phase 1 "Foundation": The Darwin Plus project (July 2014-July 2016)

The project ‘Marine Spatial Planning for the Falkland Islands’ was funded by Darwin Plus, in collaboration with the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) Environmental Studies Budget. This was a two-year project from July 2014 to June 2016. All the outputs from this project are available in the sections of this webpage. This project has now ended. The project was delivered by Dr Amélie Augé and research assistants Veronica Frans and Denise Herrera.

The aim of the MSP project is to initiate the process of MSP by preparing data, tools and analyses, and by formulating a framework for MSP in the Falkland Islands. The results will inform the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) and its stakeholders on best practice and make recommendations on priorities for management and for developing a sustainable MSP process for the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ, locally known as ‘Conservation Zone’) of the Falkland Islands.

The project is built around 3 major workshops as per the project mind map below:



The individual objectives of the 2-year MSP project are to:

  • Gather and create spatial data to map how humans and wildlife use the marine environment
  • Create a GIS database for the data
  • Analyse spatial data to detect areas of overlaps and potentially at risk of conflicts between activities or between activities and the environment
  • Analyse specifically seabirds and seals’ tracking data and sightings to identify key areas for these groups
  • Produce an MSP framework for FIG presented in a ‘Policy paper’ that will recommend best practice to implement MSP in the Falkland Islands

The project steering committee includes:

  • Sasha Arkhipkin (Fisheries Department)
  • Jon Boot (Falkland Islands Petroleum Licenses Association)
  • Paul Brewin (Shallow Marine Surveys Group)
  • Bill Dawson (Royal Navy, Mount Pleasant base)
  • Chris Locke (Fisheries Department)
  • Ben Lascelles (BridLife International)
  • Tim Martin (Falkland Islands Petroleum Licenses association)
  • Stephanie Middleton (Falkland Islands Tourism Board)
  • Andy Pollard (Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association)
  • Nick Rendell (Falkland Islands Environmental Planning Department)
  • Andy Stanworth (Falklands Conservation)
  • Phil Trathan (British Antarctic Survey)

Quarterly reports are produced for the steering committee that meets with the project team every three months. The reports and meeting notes can be downloaded by clicking on the links:



Workshop #1 ‘Setting the scene’ – November 2014


The workshop took place on 24-25 November 2014 in Stanley, Falkland Islands and gathered 16 local stakeholders, government representatives and scientists, and 3 international experts. Its aims were to:

  • Define contexts, vision and objectives for MSP in the Falkland Islands
  • List all marine activities and values
  • Identify potential conflicts amongst activities and between activities and values
  • List available spatial data, define mapping priorities and identify data gaps

The vision for the marine environment developed from stakeholders’ consultation is: “Well managed marine and coastal areas and resources of the Falkland Islands to support sustainable economic development whilst protecting our biodiversity and wild unspoilt areas, and supporting the safe use of the sea and celebration of our maritime heritage”.


The following objectives were formulated as needed to ensure the vision is reached:

"Within the next 10 years, the Plan will provide the decision-making tools to:

  • Facilitate the responsible and sustainable development of current and new economic activities to contribute to the national economy
  • Identify and safeguard the most ecologically important and unspoilt marine and coastal areas, many of which are of global significance
  • Enable the provision of safe and appropriate internal and international sea links for Islanders and business development
  • Celebrate and maintain the maritime Falkland Islands’ identity, including via the protection of historically and culturally important areas
  • Facilitate the enjoyment provided by marine and coastal areas for current and future recreational activities"

The need to establish a Marine Spatial Plan in the Falkland Islands was endorsed by stakeholders with the following agreed statement:

“With the level of use of the marine environment in the marine area of the Falkland Islands and its planned increase, it is deemed to be the appropriate time to look for a more active coordination of the use of the marine environment. Growing marine traffic, initiating oil exploitation and expanding the cruise-based tourism sector are goals of the Falkland Islands Government’s economic development, but they bring risks for the environment and the values of Falkland Islanders. These risks are potentially easily mitigated with discussion and coordination such as that provided by an MSP process. This Plan will aim to ensure that existing and developing industries can work together with minimal impact and sustainable use of our marine environment by us and our future generations.”

The workshop report can be downloaded by clicking HERE.

Before this first workshop, a public consultation took place in Stanley to present the MSP project and consult members of the public about their values of the marine environment. A report of the first public consultation can be downloaded HERE.



Workshop #2 ‘Developing the tools’ – April 2015

 The workshop took place 16-17 April 2015 in Cambridge, UK, and gathered 7 local government and stakeholder representatives and 15 UK-based MSP experts. Its aims were to:

  • Explore maps available for analyses and zoning, complete and under progress
  • Identify missing data or data gaps
  • Draw a preliminary framework for MSP for the Falkland Islands
  • Define the way of categorising areas for management
  • From lessons learnt from other MSP experiences, identify the main points that influence the effectiveness of MSP process and how to get it right for the Falklands
  • List the key mechanisms for effective science integration into MSP
  • Identify and compile a list of organisations for successful MSP and outreach

The workshop report can be downloaded by clicking HERE.

The MSP process applies to the entire EEZ from the low tide mark to the offshore boundary of the EEZ. It is a Falklands-led science-based stakeholder-informed process. The critical components needed to achieve a successful MSP process are Ecosystem services assessment, Seascape character assessment, Stakeholder and public engagement and consultation, Governance assessment, and Political engagement. Decision-support tools that the MSP process can provide managers and policy makers include regional case studies (e.g. Berkeley Sound), scenario analyses, sectorial analyses and risk-specific analyses (e.g. biosecurity). The ultimate outputs of the MSP process can be comprehensive and targeted strategies for marine economic development, marine conservation and public awareness promotion and enjoyment of the marine environment by the local community.

The main advice from MSP experts were to:

  • Ensure political support and financial commitment so that the MSP process is implemented, with no loss of momentum after the initial Darwin-Plus project
  • Tease apart the vision and objectives to draw clear quantitative time-bound targets for MSP and clear outputs
  • Create a clear and targeted GIS database and an accessible platform such as an online open-access GIS for displaying maps
  • Work with stakeholders on a case study to demonstrate the benefits of MSP for the Falkland Islands

Well-earned workshop dinner with all participants



Government supports the creation of MSP process and Plan - December 2015

Following the recommendations from the “Developing the tools” workshop, efforts were made to ensure political and financial support for implementation of MSP in the Falkland Islands so that the momentum given by the initial Darwin Plus project is not lost when it comes to an end. A paper was submitted to the FIG Executive Council in December 2015 to fulfil this recommendation. The draft paper was firs submitted for feedbacks to the MSP project steering committee, then submitted to the FIG Environmental Committee. Feedbacks were incorporated. Presentations were given at meetings of the FIG Environmental Committee and of the FIG Fisheries Committee. During a 2-month period prior to submission, there was also a large effort in communication with stakeholders and the public (see examples in section “Public outreach”).

The paper submitted to the Executive Council is available HERE.

The minutes of the 16 Dec 2015 Executive Council meeting where the paper was presented and discussed were:

“Executive Council:

  • acknowledged the importance of implementing an MSP process for the long-term sustainable and safe management of the coastal and marine environments of the Falkland Islands and that such a process is grounded in objective and sound science;
  • agreed to support and the creation of an MSP Plan, according to the framework and details provided in this paper and with the addition of a finer scale delivery and financial plan;
  • referred the request for funding to the 2016/17 Budget Select Committee; and
  • agreed to make this paper and all appendices public.”

A paper was submitted to the Budget Select Committee with fine-scale details of the framework proposed and estimated costs to FIG at the end of January 2016. These will also be refined during the “Framing” workshop.





Workshop #3 ‘Framing MSP’ – April 2016

The workshop took place 5-7 April 2016 in Stanley, Falkland Islands and gathered 22 local government and stakeholder representatives and 3 international guest speakers. Its aims were to:

  • Develop targets to reach the 25-year vision and objectives previously set
  • Revise the proposed framework and mechanisms for MSP
  • Define actors and responsibility for Phase 2
  • Identify policy options for coordinated management using case studies
  • Determine the status and format that the Marine Spatial Plan should have

The workshop report can be downloaded by clicking HERE.

The Falkland Islands Government (FIG) has committed to producing the first FIMSP and this final workshop provided a great platform for stakeholder engagement in and consultation on the proposed MSP framework as recommendations from the Darwin-Plus process (delivered during the Foundation Phase). The outcomes of this report and the other outputs of the Darwin-Plus project will inform the next phase of MSP implementation (Development Phase) during which the first FIMSP will be developed, the MSP Forum formed, terms of reference produced, and the tools for FIG to implement and legislate MSP established.



Main priorities identified during the workshop as part of the MSP process:

  • Management of shipping and boating, for facilitating emergency responses, safety protocols and environmental protection (eg. shipping exclusion zones, improve communication), and establishment of Vessel Traffic Management in Berkeley Sound
  • Provide tools and protocols for streamlining EIA process
  • Identification and designation of ecologically important areas, and suggestion of IUCN Category VI (multi-use) managed area for the 3nm buffer from baseline around the islands
  • Identify management and monitoring areas for prevention  towards marine biosecurity

The HMS Clyde hosted the last day of the workshop with a trip to Berkeley Sound illustrating ship bunkering, and whale sightings!



MSP GIS database

A major prerequisite to enable coordinated and sustainable management of the marine environment, and to implement MSP, is understanding the spatial distribution of environmental, social and economic values, and of human activities, current and also future. The MSP team has been gathering, producing, transforming and classifying spatial data to create an MSP GIS database. This consists of a metadata catalogue describing the data and how it can be used for MSP, and of datasets, in the form of rasters and shapefiles (all in WGS84 UTM21S projected coordinate system). The datasets are classified as follow:

  • Anthropogenic activity data (ANT)
  • Management data (MGT)
  • Environmental data (ENV)
  • Biological data (BIO)
  • Social data (SOC)
  • Geographic data (GEO)
  • Marine Spatial Planning data (MSP) – these will be created when MSP is implemented defining the zones

The metadata for the MSP GIS database can be downloaded as a snapshot (30/5/16) HERE.

The metadata for all data and copies of all data (unless data is already on another established database or not released by the owners) were entered in the IMS-GIS Centre. The metadata can be accessed by searching “Marine Spatial Planning” HERE, and instructions on how to request or find the data are on the same page. Some datasets may not show up if they are not strictly MSP-related but can be search by keywords (e.g. the shapefile of the Falkland coastlines can be search for with these terms instead of MSP).



MSP Falklands webGIS - now online! March 2016

One of the recommendations emerging from the “Developing the tools” workshop was to develop a tool that would allow stakeholders to visualise the spatial data produced for MSP, and later management measures. The MSP team has been working in partnership with Dr iLaria Marengo from the IMS-GIS Centre to produce the first prototype of a webGIS for MSP in the Falkland Islands. It allows users to display the different layers and peruse the area at different scales, and also to overlap different types of data such as environmental values and human activities. Due to limited internet access in the Falkland Islands, the possibility of using an-intranet like access for people in the Falkland Islands is currently looked at; logistical difficulties need to be overcome.

Click below to access the webpage of the MSP webGIS:

MSP Falklands webGIS prototype

You can download a short user guide to help you navigate the functions of the webGIS HERE.



Sub-projects emerging from the MSP project

Part of the MSP project is to identify data gaps and proposed sub- or new projects to fill in these gaps and provide further tools and mapping. During the workshops, several data gaps were identified.

  • Key areas for marine megafauna

The sub-project is led by Dr Amélie Augé in collaboration with Dr Maria Dias and Ben Lascelles from BirdLife International (Ocean Tracking Wanderer Database). A large effort of collating all tracking and sighting information on seabirds and pinnipeds has been made while the team, along with numerous data providers and local experts, is developing a methodology to produce a protocol repeatable and easily explained to stakeholders and decision makers.



Workshop ‘Developing methodology for identification of important areas for marine megafauna’ – April 2015

The workshop took place on 13-14 April 2015 in Cambridge, UK, as part of the ‘Developing the tools’ workshop step of the MSP project but focussing only on developing analyses for marine megafauna data to feed in the MSP process. Its aims were to:

  • Develop the methodology to analyse a multi-species (seabirds and pinnipeds) tracking dataset, and incorporate at-sea sighting data
  • Identify the best methodology to create layer(s) corresponding to key areas for marine megafauna
  • Inventory knowledge about cetaceans in Falkland Islands’ waters
  • Discuss a manuscript to present the multi-species tracking analyses and key areas

The workshop report can be downloaded by clicking HERE.

Seventy seabird species and 29 marine mammal species have been recorded in Falklands’ waters. The project team gathered over 60 tracking datasets in collaboration with BirdLife International, at-sea sighting data and colony location data. Assessments of key areas are required on a species by species basis first, which can then be combined to develop a layer for all marine megafauna. The conclusion was that species density use maps should be created for each species, with an indication of seasonal use and data quality. The species maps can be aggregated, with weightings or not, to produce a map of key areas for marine megafauna in the Falkland Islands to feed in the MSP process. Further studies are also recommended to deliver efficient planning for sustainable development.

Workshop participants got a well-earned late afternoon break punting on the River Cam



  • Whale recovery and sighting hotspots around the Falkland Islands

The sub-project is run by Veronica Frans under the supervision of Dr Amélie Augé. The project aims to 1) map the current recovery and distribution of large whales around the Falkland Islands and 2) estimate distribution  and detect potential recovery of the whale populations around the Falkland Islands. This project will start filling some of the cetacean knowledge gap and produce the first comprehensive whale sighting hotspot map, knowledge that will be critical to support efficient MSP. Species distribution modelling will then be applied to the sightings combined with environmental data to produce a predictive map of whale suitable habitats. This sub-project is funded by the Environmental Studies Budget. For more information on this work, click HERE check out the blog post HERE. Preliminary results are described in another blog post HERE.

  • Cultural coastal values in the Falkland Islands

The sub-project is run by Denise Herrera under the supervision of Dr Amélie Augé and Dr Kate Sherren (Dalhousie University, Canada). This project is a pilot study to develop a methodology to map coastal cultural values using interviews with members of the community to elicit valued areas of the coastal (terrestrial and marine) area of the Falkland Islands. In-person interviews are conducted with a sample of community members, born in the islands or long-term residents, in Stanley and throughout camp. A map of cumulative cultural values will be produced. For more information on this work, click HERE or check out the blog post HERE. Preliminary results are described in another blog post HERE.

  • Recreational boating areas

The sub-project was run by Dr Amélie Augé. This project aimed to map the areas by eliciting knowledge from local sailors. There are a few local sailboats and a number of visiting sailboats in particular during the summer months. However, recreational boating is low around the Falklands compared to most populated, warmer areas; it may increase in the future with an increase in tourism and improvements in facilities. The Falkland Islands Yacht Club helped gathering knowledge of favoured areas for boating and areas inaccessible, never used. Click HERE to view the full map.

  • Marine biosecurity risks areas shipping and tourism

The sub-project is conducted by Dr iLaria Marengo in collaboration with Dr Amélie Augé. This project is using MSP data (shipping traffic, tourism activities) and knowledge, and the powers of GIS analyses and mapping to predict the coastal marine areas with the highest biosecurity risks from biofouling, and the environmental sensitive areas potentially most at risk from invasive species. For more information on this work, check out the blog post HERE.

  • Kelp beds

The sub-project is undertaken by Junichi Sugishita (Otago University, New Zealand) and consists of manual mapping of kelp beds using Google Earth. Kelp beds are a very important coastal habitat for many marine species, including some commercial fish, but have only been mapped in details in a few small areas to date. Modelling-based mapping using high resolution satellite images that must be bought is prohibitively expensive for large areas. Therefore, manual mapping (however tedious) will provide a layer depicting the current distribution of coastal kelp beds throughout the Islands, critical data for MSP and a range of other studies. Click HERE to view the map.


  • Spatially-explicit cetacean stranding database

The Falkland Islands Government Environmental Planning Department (EPD) had created a cetacean stranding database; however, location data were including only sporadically as site description instead of GPS locations. The database was transformed in a GIS database by Dr Amélie Augé. Stranding events were given geographic locations based on the site descriptions, topographic maps and local residents’ input to understand local names given. EPD was provided the spatially-explicit cetacean stranding database and can now simply add new stranding with exact locations, which will be a useful tool for MSP, for recording new information, conducting analyses and monitoring potential impacts of maritime development.


  • Developing a research proposal to fill in dolphin distribution data gap

An important part of MSP is to identify the priority data gaps to fill that will significantly improve the spatial management decisions made. One of these priority data gap identified during data exploration and the MSP workshops (in particular the workshop on Key areas for marine megafauna), was the lack of information on the distribution and habitat use and needs of the coastal dolphins found around the Falkland Islands: the Commerson’s dolphin, Cephalorhynchus commersonii, and Peale’s dolphin, Lagenorhynchus australis. Therefore, it was agreed that the MSP project would lead on a research proposal to apply for funds to conduct research in that field. A pilot survey that covered sampled areas of the coasts in early 2014 conducted by Falklands Conservation gave some preliminary knowledge to help develop a research proposal. A Darwin Plus proposal was submitted in September 2015. The PI, Paul Brickle and Amélie Augé (who will lead the research), and all the research partners on the application, are delighted to announce that the proposal submitted to Darwin Plus has been successful; research will start from mid-2016.



Public outreach

One of the main attributes of a successful MSP process is its openness and public outreach, in particular with local stakeholders and communities. In order to fulfil this attribute, a number of public outreach initiatives have been conducted during the length of the project. These included a public MSP consultation evening and a number of public presentations in Stanley that have provided opportunities to teach the community about MSP and its potential benefits. Face-to-face interviews conducted in camp for some sub-projects have provided an opportunity to talk to many people. Along with these presentations, a number of appearances in the local media (TV, radio and the Penguin News, the local newspapers) have also taken place.

You can download some of the public communication material:

  • Presentation at Farmers Week in 2015 by clicking HERE
  • Darwin Newsletter article in May 2016 HERE
  • Penguin News articles:
    • Ensuring the long-term future of Falklands economy and beauty HERE
    • The cultural values of our coasts HERE
    • Mapping historical whale sightings HERE
    • There’s more traffic sea traffic than you think HERE
    • A ship shaped workshop for MSP HERE
    • Teamwork pinpoints Falklands best spots HERE
    • Whales returning indicates survey HERE



Scientific presentations

19 January 2015: Presentation at Falkland Islands Science Symposium, Stanley, Falkland Islands by Amélie Augé.

15 August 2015: Presentation at the workshop ‘Biosecurity in South Atlantic Overseas Territories’, Ascension Island by iLaria Marengo (research collaborator). Presentation slides available HERE as a pdf. iLaria Marengo and Amélie A Augé (2015). Marine spatial planning, GIS, and biofouling risk assessment. Biosecurity workshop, Ascension Island.

4 April 2016: Presentation at US-IALE, Asheville, USA by Veronica Frans. Access the abstract.

Veronica F Frans, Amélie A Augé, Jan O Engler and Hendrik Edelhoff (2016). A whale of a tale: using local knowledge to predict baleen whale distribution around the Falkland Islands. US-IALE 2016, Ashville, North Carolina, USA

18 April 2016: Presentation at the workshop ‘Towards an evidence-based MPA for Ascension Island’, Foreign Commonwealth Office, London, UK, by Amélie Augé. ‘Spatial data, mapping and webGIS for evidence-based MSP’

21 April 2016: Presentation at Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Peterborough, UK, by Amélie Augé. ‘Initiating Marine Spatial Planning in the Falkland Islands’. Presentation slides available HERE as a pdf.



Links of interest about MSP

The Shetland Islands have been developing a Marine Spatial Plan since 2004. This is a great example to check out - Shetland Islands marine spatial planning:  

Marine Scotland, the governmental unit in charge of coordinated sustainable management of Scottish waters:

UNESCO Marine Spatial Planning Initiative:

European Commission Maritime Affairs – MSP webpage:

UK Government - Marine planning factsheets:



Blog posts by the MSP team

  • SAERI staff participate in Ascension Island MPA workshop in London (3/5/16) link
  • Marine Spatial Planning: Mapping historical whale sightings to manage the future! (3/5/16) link
  • Hotspots of cultural coastal values identified for Marine Spatial Planning (24/4/16) link
  • Conference presentation: Using local knowledge to predict baleen whale distribution around the Falkland Islands (20/4/16) link
  • Local stakeholders gathered in Stanley for a 3-day marine spatial planning workshop (15/4/16) link
  • Kidney menu with shearwater soup (13/1/16) link
  • Mapping areas at risk of marine invasion from biofouling (3/12/15) link
  • Marine Spatial Planning: Mapping historical whale sightings to help manage the future (20/11/15) link
  • Marine spatial planning: There is more traffic in the sea than you think! (27/11/15) link
  • Marine Spatial Planning: The Cultural Values of our Coasts (13/11/15) link
  • Marine spatial planning: Ensuring long-term future of the Falkland Islands’ economy and beauty (6/11/15) link
  • SAERI does its bit for the Falkland Islands national clean-up day (17/10/14) link