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Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)

Theme coordinator:
Holger Janßen (EUCC Germany/Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Rostock, DE)

The EUCC Marine Team aims to support the EU Maritime Spatial Planning process by disseminating information and doing own research.

Managing marine space

Fishing, sailing, maritime transport, mining or navy use – it is nothing new to use seas and oceans. However, activities on Europe’s seas are increasing. Offshore energy, aquaculture, increased maritime transport, carbon dioxide storage, cables, pipelines and other uses request space. Here they are in competition between different sectors, including the marine environment and the coastal tourisms demands for a marine landscape. Marine space is not endless. Quite the contrary, already today in parts of Europe’s seas space is multiple-used. To secure a sustainable development and to reduce conflicts between the single sectors the UNESCO, the European Commission and several of the EU’s member states are pushing the development of Maritime Spatial Planning.

Tradition of rational use

On land Spatial Planning has been developed since the mid 20th century as an own discipline to achieve a balanced regional development. This approach includes, among others, the aspects of efficient, save and sustainable use of space. This, in turn, in based on a long human tradition as most human settlements reflect various degrees of conscious design in their spatial development. Having this tradition in background Maritime Spatial Planning is currently developed to promote rational use of the sea.

Stakeholder participation

Maritime Spatial Planning is an integrated, strategic and participatory oriented approach. This attempt has been adopted from the ICZM methodology. As Maritime Spatial Planning aims to achieve multiple objectives (economical, ecological and social) it has to involve key stakeholders from different sectors. This is important not only during the planning process itself but also for establishing Maritime Spatial Planning as a management approach in Europe. The Coastal and Marine Union (EUCC) therefore actively supports the involvement of stakeholders in the EU Maritime Policy.

The EU Roadmap

In November 2008 the European Commission adopted the “Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning: Achieving common principles in the EU". It gives an overview about the current status of Maritime Spatial Planning and shows instruments and key principles. Furthermore the European Commission is currently in a discussion process with stakeholders and member states. During a conference in Brussels and workshops in Ispra, on the Azores and in Stockholm the key principles as set within the roadmap have been discussed. These key principles are

in Ispra

  • Using MSP according to area and type of activity
  • Defining objectives to guide MSP
  • Ensuring the legal effect of national MSP
  • Coherence between MSP and terrestrial planning

on the Azores

  • Cross-border cooperation
  • Incorporating monitoring and evaluation
  • Strong data and knowledge base
  • Coordination within Member States – simplifying decision processes
  • Developing MSP in a transparent manner

in Stockholm

  • Stakeholder participation
  • Cross-border cooperation

The discussion process laid the basis for the Communication 'Maritime Spatial Planning in the EU - Achievements and future development' adopted by the European Commission in December 2010. A more detailed range of options to promote and develop both MSP and ICZM shall be presented in 2011 by the European Commission.


Maritime Spatial Planning website of the UNESCO

European Commission

Maritime Spatial Planning website of the European Commission
Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning

Interreg Projects