Research aims

Marine environments are subject to growing pressures, and only sustainably managed coasts and seas will allow the international community to meet its global targets, including the reduction of poverty and hunger as detailed in the global 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Thus, marine environments are considered opportunities for future growth not only in Europe but also in the tropics.

New frameworks will be increasingly needed to regulate and optimise the range of feasible uses of marine areas and resources. There is an urgent and critical need for research on the application of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) in tropical areas, ideally addressing the fact that the policy framework originally designed for the European Union may not fit the specificities of tropical and developing countries.

PADDLE brings together internationally renowned researchers and actors, from countries bordering the tropical Atlantic and from the EU, to create a network and a collaborative platform to build theory and methods for pertinent MSP in tropical areas and to come up with recommendations for knowledge-based MSP by providing critical analyses of the tools and methods used and by designing innovative approaches to efficient MSP.

Hence, the Traffic Light Concept (Helfer & Zimmer, 2018), developed at ZMT, provides categories of ecosystem value for facilitating decision-making on spatial conservation prioritisation.

Ecosystem Design (Zimmer, 2018), conceptualised at ZMT, aims at (re-)implementing simple communities in degraded areas to most efficiently provide those ecosystem services most needed by local and regional societies.


Project Partner


International Project Partner

Dr. Werner Ekau (WG Fisheries Biology)

Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge,  Dr. Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoya (WG Development and Knowledge Sociology)

Dr. Véronique Helfer, Dr. Lucy G. Gillis, Guilherme Abuchahla, Mirco Wölfelschneider (WG Mangrove Ecology)

PD Dr. Marion Glaser, Theresa Schwenke (WG Social-Ecological Systems Analysis)

Prof. Dr. Achim Schlüter (WG Institutions and Behavioural Economics)



Kordinator: Dr. Marie Bonnin, IRD, France