WP7 : Coordination ,management & stakeholder engagement

The general lack of data on BEF relations in tidal flat sediments means that our data will be of special interest to academic end-users and research funders. However, given the importance of the ES of tidal flats, they will also be of great benefit for both public and private stakeholders involved in ICZM, policy development and implementation, and natural resource management. In addition, we want to raise awareness amongst the general public that the microbial organisms inhabiting tidal sediments are hugely important, just like their counterparts in the plankton.

We have contacted both public and private stakeholders (see Table). These include local and national policy makers (e.g. ADBVBB, IFREMER, DMT), platforms involved in ICZM (e.g. VLIZ, MASTS), private consultancy firms (e.g. BIO-LITTORAL) and industries (e.g. Huîtres DLC, Benth’ostrea). Focus is strongly on stakeholders in the Bay of Bourgneuf (BB) area as this extensive area is of special interest for oyster farming, raising interesting questions regarding reconciliation of potentially conflicting interests by different stakeholder groups (oyster farmers, tourism, nature conservation). In the Scheldt estuary we will engage stakeholders who are involved in ICZM in relation to e.g. access to the harbours of Antwerp, Ghent and Terneuzen (dredging) and nature conservation.

Stakeholders will be involved at different levels of engagement, from being informed or consulted to being actively involved or collaborating (see Table). Depending on this level, different methods will be used for active engagement, ranging from active collaboration before and during the field campaigns (e.g. with OSUNA, BIO-LITTORAL and VLIZ) to support for data storage and management (VLIZ). We will involve local oyster farmers in the experiments of WP4 (Huîtres DLC, Benth’ostrea). Other policy makers, academia, public etc. will be informed and/or consulted. These categories are of course flexible and closer engagement is possible upon mutual agreement. How stakeholders will be engaged is outlined below and in section B.

All partners in the project are well-acquainted with stakeholder communication and engagement. The project will greatly benefit from the expertise of the self-financed partner (D. Paterson) who is Executive Director of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS). MASTS provides scientific knowledge to support sustainable development of maritime industries, but also provides marine science training and outreach to the general public.