Growing research needs in new areas…

The last few decades have been marked by the growing importance of maritime issues, both socio-economic and environmental. New activities are developing at sea at an impressive rate: exploitation of marine renewable energies, deep-sea mining, exploitation of marine biodiversity for pharmaceuticals or cosmetics, algae cultivation, etc.

It is becoming increasingly clear that in response to this ongoing innovation, there is a need for innovation in the regulation and planning of these activities. These developments raise new and difficult questions, particularly in the field of human sciences (political science, geography, sociology, law, etc.), which must take them on board and establish the academic foundations for resolving them.

SML and R&I

One of SML’s roles is to ensure communication between science and decision-makers. This function of “bridge-builder” is currently poorly fulfilled by both scientists and decision-makers, each believing that it is up to the other to bridge the gap between them. At the crossroads, SML conducts or accompanies research and innovation activities, particularly in the field of maritime spatial planning.

> PhD Thesis 2017-2021

Contributions of maritime surveillance data to maritime spatial planning in metropolitan France.
Between technical potential and political constraints


In collaboration with the University of Western Britanny, and within the framework of the CIFRE scheme, SML carried out (Clément Dupont) and supervised (Christophe Le Visage and Frédérick Herpers) a PhD thesis between 2017-2021.

This geography thesis focuses on the potential and effective contributions of maritime surveillance data (AIS, VMS, radar, etc.) in the production of the knowledge base necessary for planning in metropolitan France. It is based on a combination of a systematic review of the scientific and regulatory literature, and a semi-directive interview survey carried out during 2019 with 40 stakeholders in the French MSP. After noting the minor contribution of monitoring data to the French planning process, the thesis highlights three main factors limiting the mobilisation of these data, linked to the technical limitations of the systems, the poor circulation of data and a lack of acceptability on the part of certain stakeholders. Finally, it invites us to consider this observation as a reflection of the specificities of the French PEM, and the difficulties it faces, particularly in the face of competition for the sharing of space and the distribution of powers in maritime governance.

> SESAM project

The development of the blue economy involves the rational and sustainable exploitation of marine resources and maritime space. The starting point is of course the existing situation: which activity exploits which resource, where and when?

However, the answers to this question are still very incomplete, and rather unsatisfactory: not only is little information available, but much of it is provided by the users themselves, with the level of detail that suits them – often quite limited.

SML has developed and continues to develop with its partners, within the framework of its SESAM project, services for the analysis of monitoring information that allow detailed mapping of activities (nature, spatio-temporal density, etc.). The system can use virtually any data (active or passive radar, AIS, GSM trajectography, etc.).

The analysis of maritime activities has many applications: monitoring compliance with regulations, maritime risk management and safety, defence and security, cumulative impact studies, etc. SML is focusing on the use of this information in support of integrated approaches, including MSP.

Our R&I Partners

Some examples of our work in this area