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 integral 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.

In the Baltic Sea, the Joint HELCOM-VASAB Maritime Spatial Planning Working Group has worked since 2010 for a regionally coherent regional Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) processes. Working under the HELCOM-VASAB MSP WG, the Baltic Sea Region MSP​ Data Expert Sub-group supports the WG by providing data, information and evidence exchange for MSP processes with regard to cross-border/transboundary planning issues.​

In 2021, HELCOM renewed two of its key frameworks, the Baltic Sea Action Plan and the Roadmap, which is HELCOM’s strategic programme of measures and actions for achieving good environmental status of the sea, and, more specifically to MSP, the New Regional Maritime Spatial Planning Roadmap 2021-2030.

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