The central part of the MESMA spatial management tool box is a generic and flexible framework describing an iterative process to evaluate and monitor a Spatially Managed Area. The MESMA framework comprises seven key steps:
- The first step requires the definition of spatial and temporal boundaries to specify the context (step 1a). In relation to those boundaries the high level goals and operational objectives will be defined (step 1b).
- Step 2 comprises collecting existing information and mapping. In step 2a the ecosystem components (natural and socio‐economic) relevant to the set of objectives will be defined and mapped for the SMA. The socio‐economic components (human activities) will be mapped and (cumulative) impacts of those on natural ecosystem components will be assessed (step 2b). Existing or proposed management measures will be further listed in step 2c.
- Step 3 involves the definition of indicators and related thresholds.
- Step 4 comprises state assessment of the indicators and/or a risk analysis of management scenarios.
- Step 5 evaluates the findings against the operational objectives.
- The evaluation of management effectiveness will be conducted in step 6.
- In step 7 the assessment results will be synthesised to formulate recommendations to adapt management.
Throughout the assessment process stakeholder engagement is considered to be important which is directly linked to a detailed governance analysis of the SMA which will be conducted in WP6.