A wide diversity of activities is carried out at sea including fisheries and aquaculture, mineral extraction, marine renewable energy, transport, telecommunication, tourism and recreation. Ocean resources are finite. It is thus important to plan how, where and when we use our ocean and coastal zones. Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) works across borders and sectors to ensure human activities at sea take place in an efficient, safe and sustainable way. It brings multiple benefits by :
- Reducing conflicts between sectors and creating synergies between different activities;
- Encouraging investment by creating predictability, transparency and clearer rules;
- Increasing cross-border cooperation between European Union (EU) countries to develop energy grids, shipping lanes, pipelines, submarine cables and other activities, but also to develop coherent networks of protected area;
- Protecting the environment through early identification of impact and opportunities for multiple use of space.
It is therefore essential for a healthy ocean and sustainable development of the blue economy.
A directive establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning was adopted in 2014. The directive stipulates that maritime spatial plans must be established by European Union Member States at the latest by 31 March 2021. The EU MSP Directive lists several minimum requirements for Maritime Spatial Planning:
- take into account land-sea interactions;
- take into account environmental, economic and social aspects, as well as safety aspects;
- aim to promote coherence between maritime spatial planning and the resulting plan or plans and other processes, such as integrated coastal management or equivalent formal or informal practices;
- ensure the involvement of stakeholders;
- organise the use of the best available data;
- ensure trans-boundary cooperation between Member States;
- promote cooperation with third countries.
The European MSP Platform, an information and communication gateway funded by the EU Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), offers support to all Member States in their efforts to implement Maritime Spatial Planning. It acts as the central exchange forum for knowledge allowing officials, planners and other stakeholders interested in MSP to build on what is already available, avoid duplication of efforts, assist in capacity building and foster development of new practices.  Good quality information and data are key to making informed decisions about Maritime Spatial Planning. The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) provides open data to support Maritime Spatial Planning. Watch the EMODnet video to learn why this is important and what type of data is available.
EU-funded projects facilitate cooperation between EU countries in the management of maritime space. Explore the Map of the week to discover the Maritime Spatial Planning projects in Europe. Click on the projects in the map to see more details and access the websites dedicated to these projects.
The data in this map are provided by the European Commission.