Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Maritime Spatial Planning

What is Maritime Spatial Planning?

According to the UNESCO initiative on Maritime Spatial Planning MSP is:

“a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that usually have been specified through a political process. Characteristics of  marine spatial planning include ecosystem-based, area-based, integrated, adaptive, strategic and participatory”.

MSP is a marine equivalent to terrestrial spatial planning which has been used to rationally develop e.g. urban areas, but also to protect environmental and cultural values. However, whereas terrestrial spatial planning has for centuries been an integrated part of national law in many European countries, MSP is a novel, emerging form of legality implemented so far mainly in connection with marine protected areas and as shipping lanes and traffic separation schemes (TSS).

MSP also provides the possibility of widening the horizon beyond purely sectoral policy measures towards an integrated spatial approach within the Baltic marine areas.

During 2017 and 2018, HELCOM is working to identify Ecologically and Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) in the Baltic Sea area. This process is expected to provide useful information to inform MSP processes as well as other HELCOM processes and assessments.

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