5.7 Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a tool for Ecosystem-Based Management. People and marine life use the ocean in many different ways. Energy development, aquaculture, commercial fishing, recreational uses, and shipping lanes all compete for space in the ocean. Whales, sea turtles, seabirds, fish, and the habitats they need for survival also require places in this increasingly crowded marine environment. MSP creates a blueprint for ocean use and conservation by:

• bringing together diverse ocean users;
• creating a comprehensive picture of the ocean;
• providing a forum for proactive discussion and informed decision-making;
• providing a coordinated way to allocate marine spaces to simultaneously achieve ecological, economic, and social goals;
• increasing transparency and accountability by giving all ocean users a seat at the table and access to tools and information.

TThus it is a process that works across borders and sectors and that brings together multiple users of the ocean (energy, industry, government, conservation and recreation) to make coordinated decisions about how to use marine resources sustainably and to manage the ocean in an efficient, safe and coherente way. It uses maps to give a comprehensive picture of the marine area and its possible uses . Through the maps it visualizes where and how an ocean area is being utilized and what habitats exist. Thus, to be effective the MSP needs to be multi-objective, spatially focused and integrated.

The Marine Spatial Planning has different benefits: first, it reduces conflicts between sectors and creates synergies among activities; second, it can encourage investments by creating rules about transparency; third, it increases cross-border cooperation among countries; and finally, it protects the environment through early identification of impacts and opportunities for multiple use of space.
MSP emerged in the early 2000 as a solution for implementing the EBM and developing integrated, multi-objective marine plans. It simultaneously addresses ecological, economic, social and cultural objectives. During the years, MSP has evolved from planning for few major economic sectors and marine protected area networks, to supporting a wide set of objectives, like supporting local economies, addressing climate change impacts and developing long-term financing mechanisms to implement a plan.