The state of Israel has many resources in the Mediterranean Sea, and therefore many opportunities to explore. However, in the last few decades threats to the state’s marine and coastal environment have increased. Threats include different uses such as oil and gas excavations, marine transportation, water pollution from land sources, proliferation of non-indigenous species, and more. These threats could seriously impact Israel’s future opportunities to exploit resources.
For years, Israeli institutions for planning and development, as well as environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) have focused on the use and the protection of land resources, while caring for the marine environment and specifically the marine area within Israel’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), were left behind. A national policy for marine use has not yet been developed and the country lacks a comprehensive, science-based planning framework. Its legal institutions relating to the sea are vague and undefined.
With the growing interest of public, governmental institutions and stakeholders in the utilization of the different resources and the demands of their development, there is a growing need to launch a process that will manage and balance the many interests and points of view related to marine uses. Past experience in other parts of the world shows that such a process can significantly contribute to responsible decision-making in regards to Israel’s territorial waters and its EEZ.
Our collaboration at the Technion, through the Center for Urban and Regional Studies of the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning will attempt to address these issues for the benefit of the State of Israel and for the entire region. Our group has begun developing a marine plan for Israel. The preparation of such a plan is expected to continue for approximately two and a half years, and is meant to promote a balanced and comprehensive policy for guarding and developing resources within the territorial waters and the EEZ of Israel in the Mediteranean. Our hope is that this endeavor will lead to a viable marine planning process and policy that will foster sustainable development and management of Israel’s marine resources for generations to come.
Professor Shamay Assif and Assistant Professor Michelle Portman of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies head the lead team. The team itself is comprised of graduate students and advanced research fellows, as well as professional consultants. Other stakeholders from the government and public sphere, from academia, from professional organizations and from the private sector will also consult the team. Additionally, a scientific international advisory board has been appointed to accompany the project as it progresses. Project management will be the purview of Ethos – Architecture, Planning and Environment consulting group. Preparing the policy paper and plan will occur with as much cooperation and coordination with other paralel and/or similar efforts that are currently taking place or that will take place in the near future.