MSP Sectors

Main issues

In addition to the designated MSP authorities and their planning experts, numerous ministries as well as other public and private institutions with sectoral values and interests ‘manage’ marine and coastal areas and often done so prior to a Maritime Spatial Planning process. As a matter of fact integrated management institutions combining all blue sectors and interests under one roof rarely exist; in most MSP cases the cross-sector approach is therefore safeguarded by inter-ministerial working groups.

An integrated management plan will have many management actions applicable to sectors like marine transport, fisheries, offshore renewable energy, oils and gas and mineral extraction that use the resources of the marine area.

In order to achieve integration - it is crucial to understand the optimal spatial conditions and requirements of each sector individually. In most cases this work has to go hand in hand with the sectors because many of them (esp. the traditional sectors) are not used to think in “spatial” and/or cross-sectoral terms. Please see the section MSP Sectors for more information about spatial conditions and requirements of individual sectors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Site suitability parameters (how suitable is a given site for certain activities) may relate to the physical and biological characteristics of an area, and are relevant to the type of activity that is being planned. It is important to keep in mind that site suitability parameters will vary significantly depending on the local conditions and the type of activity considered. For example, offshore wind arrays must take account of the wind resource, water depth and proximity to the shore, in order to minimise grid connection distance (see Aquaculture farms must take account of currents, water quality (e.g. turbidity, nutrients) and nearby sensitive species (see for example suitability maps developed from the COEXIST project). A careful analysis should therefore be carried out of the demands of the activity in question and the relevant constraint criteria for the area of interest.

During an MSP process, it is recommended that the context of a defined area is assessed and then late further refined– this is commonly referred to as a stocktake (see for example the Handbook on Integrated Maritime Spatial Planning developed from the Plan Coast project). Information collected during the stocktake is then analysed, such as through modelling of data per site suitability parameters, including for example a cumulative impacts assessment (see for example the Adriplan Cumulative Impact Tool). This information is then used to establish or recommend suitable areas for certain activities.

Site suitability parameters are usually identified in the early stages of MSP processes. Some documents developed during an MSP process may lay the foundation for development of a statutory MSP plan, but were themselves not formally adopted. For example, the Portuguese Plano de Ordenamento do Espaço Marítimo (POEM) is a study that served as a precursor to Portugal’s statutory MSP plan, by laying out the economic, environmental and social importance of Portugal’s mainland sea area, showing existing and potential uses and their integrated planning and adaptive management. Pilot MSP plans can have a specific focus on a particular sector, such as the pilot plan for the Southern Middle Bank on the Swedish/Polish border developed as part of the PartiSeaPate project. In terms of adopted plans, the German MSP plans for the North Sea and Baltic Sea contain precise information on the site suitability parameters for given sectors, as well as their accompanying SEAs (North Sea and Baltic Sea).