Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Co-existence and multi-use of activities

This page addresses the growing interest for issues related to maritime activities' co-existence and the development of multi-use at sea in Europe. It aims to support and inform decision-makers and practitioners on current initiatives, challenges and levers for developing multi-use between maritime activities at sea. This page contains a matrix providing information on the combination of maritime and coastal activities and their associated challenges and enablers. You can compile information and download a report via the "Download/Print report" button. Interested in specific examples ? Access the compendium of case studies, collecting real world or pilot-stage multi-use case studies (including co-existence) highlighting lessons learnt. Finally, you can view relevant resources (studies, scientific publications, projects' deliverables) on co-existence of activities and multi-use.

Should you have any questions or comments feel free to contact the EU MSP Platform team here.

View more

With technical progress, economic development and globalisation, maritime activities have been increasingly growing, progressively moving further away from the coast. Some activities that used to be land-based are now developing at sea, such as energy and food production or power and communication networks, more and more of which result in the permanent occupation of space and the presence of several activities in the same location and / or at the same time. 

The role of Maritime Spatial Planning

The limited availability of maritime space in some sea basins combined with the increase in maritime activities calls for solutions to organise such activities coherently and efficiently within the available space. This objective is embodied by the concept of Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP). MSP is an integrative process to address the increasing demand for maritime space from traditional and emerging sectors while preserving the proper functioning of marine ecosystems. It aims at reducing conflicts between sectors and creating synergies between different activities.  


Different degree of synergies at sea: co-existence and multi-use

The following pages will present case studies and examples of both co-existence and multi-use of maritime space. While “co-existence” of activities designate uses which take place at the same time in the same space with limited interaction, multi-use encompasses a higher level of integration between activities. It is one of the tools available to improve the efficiency of the co-existence of different activities at sea and represents an advanced and efficient way to organise this co-existence by allowing infrastructure or areas to be shared efficiently by two or more different activities. 

Improving co-existence of activities and, where possible, multi-use is essential regarding:
The increase of activities at seaPressures on the marine and coastal environmentDifferent policy targets at sea
The increase in flows and trade of goods had a significant impact on maritime space. Almost all maritime activities significantly increased during the 20thcentury in Europe: shipping, fishing, coastal and maritime tourism, offshore oil and gas platforms, etc.  Human activities based in coastal and maritime areas put pressure on the local ecosystems and all their components. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive are the two major legal tools to plan sea uses in the way that has the least impact on the marine environment and to reach Good Environmental Status. Those EU policies mentioned above have aimed at organizing the different activities taking place on the coasts and at sea in the most efficient and sustainable way possible. They also set objectives for the development of activities at sea (e.g., reach 111GW of offshore wind by 2030) and the protection of the marine environment (e.g., reach 30% of marine protected areas by 2030). Thus, the issue of co-locating activities on the coast and at sea becomes increasingly more important when implementing these targets at a national level, especially in already crowded areas. 

Combining activities at sea

Click on the matrix below and find out more about how maritime activities are combined at sea. You can also print those pages by compiling a report: click on the Download/Print button on the right and select 2 activities from those listed.

Multi-use and co-existence compendium

Find examples of existing case studies