The Fourteenth International MEDCOAST Congress on Coastal and Marine Sciences, Engineering, Management and Conservation (MEDCOAST 19) was organised in Marmaris, Turkey during 22 – 26 October 2019. Manuscripts of eighty-seven papers, covering a wide range of subjects related to coastal and marine issues were published in two-volume congress proceedings totalling 904 pages. The papers were presented in keynote, oral and poster sessions.
We, one hundred and six participants of MEDCOAST 2019 congress, nationals of twenty-four countries, in appreciation of the charms Marmaris and warm Turkish hospitality, unanimously agree to highlight the following observations and recommendations for attention of national, regional and international institutions dealing with coastal and marine issues, and of all concerned individuals:
1. Several issues within the realm of Marine Management like Integrated Maritime Policy, Marine Spatial Planning and Blue Economy have been emphasized especially in European Union, and these are aimed to be extended to cover the whole Mediterranean and the Black Sea basins. The mentioned emphasis of marine management seems to have caused to some level decreased attention given to ICM. Healthy and productive seas cannot be achieved if the coastal zones are not managed properly and effectively. We believe that Integrated Coastal and Marine management should go together with utmost integration of management efforts on land and over/in water.
2. The growing interest of European Commission to support diffusion of MSP and innovative development of Blue Economy has been observed over several years both in Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. Considering the present political difficulties and constraints, especially in the Black Sea basin, that hinder intergovernmental cooperation, we propose setting up of a new EC program that urges and financially supports networking and decentralized cooperation among scientist and scientific institutions, local administrations, coastal and marine economic sectors and non-governmental organizations, especially in the Black Sea basin. The short lived (1993-96) Med Program of the European Commission was instrumental for creation of several important coastal networks, like MEDCOAST; MedWet and MedCities, that provided important contributions to coastal management up to date.
3. Progress of ICM in the Mediterranean and Black Sea countries has been very slow and in some countries in negative direction despite very significant efforts by various actors and at several levels, especially in the Mediterranean, since early 1990s. There is hardly any country that has yet set up mechanisms and governance systems at national or regional level for effective integrated coastal management. International collaboration in the Black Sea basin has not been strong enough to flourish effective ICM practices in the riparian countries.
4. Monitoring and subsequent assessment of the progress are important integral steps of successful coastal and marine management. Over 10 years have passed since the signing of the ICZM Protocol for the Mediterranean. Monitoring the implementation levels and achievements of this important legal instrument must be carried out effectively and without delay. The reasons behind poor implementation if found so, must be assessed and additional initiatives must be designed and put in action for speeding up the effective implementation of the Protocol.
5. It is observed that science-policy interface in coastal and marine management has not sufficiently broadened from 1990s to present date. Proper and effective coastal and marine management cannot be realized without contributions and support of the scientific community to policy makers and implementers. Urgent dialogues are called for between scientists and policy developers at both national and regional levels. The biennial congresses and other scientific and professional international meetings organised by MEDCOAST offer important opportunities for widening science-policy interface.
6. An important weakness observed in both Mediterranean and Black Sea basins is the poor level of stakeholder participation at various stages of coastal and marine management, like policy making, planning, permitting and monitoring. Plans and programs that do have the majority support can hardly be implemented successfully and sustainably.
7. Understanding of climate change impacts on coastal and marine habitats and ecosystems carry great importance for designing effective measures aiming reduction of negative effects. Concerted research programs for investigating such impacts with collaboration of scientists from all riparian countries should be a priority action for sponsoring institutions.
8. Regional collaboration for sharing methods and tools useful to achieve dialogue between the scientific community and politicians, decision makers, media and citizens would be useful for achieving successes at regional level. These campaigns should aim to positively change the behaviour of all target group.
9. The plans of MEDCOAST for creating a Black Sea Working Group by bringing together the well-known coastal and marine scientists and professionals from the MEDCOAST Network for designing and implementing thematic scientific meetings and training programs specific to the Black Sea needs is welcomed by the participants .The “Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) for the Black Sea that is recently developed by the European Commission is also welcomed with expectations.