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Addressing MSP Implementation in Case Study Areas: Inner Ionian Sea – Corinthian Gulf


The present case study presents an analysis and spatial organization proposal for the Inner Ionian Sea – Corinthian Gulf, covering an area of about 13,400 km2. The analysis includes an overview of the socio-economic characteristics, natural environment and natural resources of the study area. The case study then goes on to present three different planning scenarios for the area with corresponding policy options and recommendations. 

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How can spatial planning scenarios be developed?
  • What scales are used in the development of maritime spatial plans?
  • How are land-sea interactions integrated into MSP?

Implementation Context:

The case study is carried out within the SUPREME project component of the development of partner pilot study areas. This case study gives an in depth overview of the geological and geographical features, natural and environmental aspects, socio-economic characteristics, coastal and land uses, technical infrastructure, nonliving resources, natural and cultural heritage in the Inner Ionian Sea – Corinthian Gulf area. The study then goes on to give three different planning scenarios for the area to define goals, objectives and policy options for maritime spatial planning.

Aspects / Objectives:

The aim of this case study was to analyse the socio-economic and natural characteristics of the Inner Ionian Sea – Corinthian Gulf to create different spatial scenarios to inform maritime spatial planning proposals for the area.  


The case study was developed through an initial fulfilment of selection criteria defined as:

  • Environmental and geophysical features
  • Economic and geopolitical peculiarities
  • Sea Uses complexity, interaction and conflicts
  • Transboundary features

These criteria served as base guidelines for analysis and data collection to support development of three spatial planning proposals. These were then used for the definition of goals, objectives and policy options for the pilot study area. 

Main Outputs / Results:

Planning objectives were defined per planning domain:

Marine Habitat Conservation
-Identify protected areas that need a Management Plan (i.e. Natura sites where no management plans already exist)
-Propose special zoning within these protected areas, making suggestions on the compatibility of activities and uses.
-Identify marine and coastal areas (habitats included) under pressure from: a) land-based activities, b) sea-uses and installations and c) maritime transport
 -Identify marine and coastal areas (habitats included) needing special measures to tackle threats due to: a) climate change effects, b) natural processes (erosion, SLR etc). 
-Identify beaches: a) at risk of losing their “blue flag” designation and b) having potential (fulfilling the criteria) for “blue flag” designation

Underwater Cultural Heritage
-Identify UCH sites and classify them according to: a) their cultural value (world/national/regional/local importance), b) their economic value (for tourism and leisure purposes, etc)
-Propose protection zoning (including suggestions on the compatibility of activities and uses)
-Specify existing restrictions and protection regulations for UCH (identifying safety distance limits from sea & land uses)
-Identify UCH sites under threat (naming existing conflicts with other uses and installations in the study area).

Living resources exploitation (Commercial Fisheries, Recreational Fisheries, fish and shellfish processing, marine plant harvesting, hunting and collecting for other reasons) 
-Identify existing prohibition fishing zones (designated to reduce overfishing, and assist increase of fishing stocks), in order to consider possible changes in their spatial distribution and size and their temporal planning and regulations.
-Identify existing prohibition areas for specific types of fishing boats (trawlers, purse seiners, etc), in order to consider possible changes in their geographical scope and time of operation.

Living resources cultivation (Aquaculture, including infrastructure)
-Specialise  restrictions  and safety  distance  limits included  in  the national  spatial  plan for aquaculture in the study area (in order to ensure optimal localization and avoid conflicts with other sea uses and with the environment)
-Identify areas where conflicts exist: a) between existing aquaculture and other sea-uses and b) between existing aquaculture and the ecosystem (marine and terrestrial)
-Identify areas for the construction of artificial reefs and other breeding areas to be protected
-Propose (if possible) additional restrictions and regulations for land based infrastructure (specializing the existing National Spatial Plan for Aquaculture

Non-living resources extraction (oil, gas, minerals, salt, water, aggregates)
-Identify areas with mineral and fossil deposits and propose zoning for possible future extraction (following specific selection criteria)
-Identify areas of significant conflicts for the extraction of oil and gas with other sea-uses and marine habitats
-Provide regulations and restrictions for the development of future relevant installations (extraction platforms), safety distance limits, etc
-Identify areas where aggregates extraction (and other mineral extraction) is forbidden (due to natural phenomena, earthquakes, coastal erosion, etc)

Physical restructuring of coastline and seabed
 -Identify areas having priority for the backshore delimitation along all coasts of the study area (adapt to provisions of Law 2971/2002).
-Identify areas to consider imposing a safety limit for constructions, excluding areas with urban plans.
-Identify restricted areas for the extraction of aggregates (due to the extensive coastal erosion, important natural habitats, etc).
-Identify areas having priority for coastal defense and flood protection constructions and works. 
-Identify (large or smaller) rivers, needing spatial arrangements to prevent flood events and movement of river materials.
-Identify areas for land claim: a) for the creation of infrastructure (e.g. ports), b) for civil protection (e.g. from coastal erosion, tsunamis, etc), c) for other public purposes

Maritime Transport
-Identify ports that need a change/upgrade in the type of use or the size (international ports, national port, etc) or the facilities provided. 
-Propose a suitable network of: a) small fishing ports, b) tourism ports and/or marinas, c) hydroplanes.
-Identify ports for which Master Plans (although suggested by national legislation) are still missing
 -Identify ways and facilities to achieve modal shift in the study area (road-to-sea)
-Identify needs for new transport connections, especially the re-establishment of the (seasonal) connectivity between the northern and southern coasts of the Corinthian Gulf (also considering hydroplane connections).
 -Identify areas of ship pollution (waste, ballast, etc), and make proposals for improvements in transport regulations
- Identify restricted areas for the creation of new port facilities 
 -Identify ports that need relocation

Tourism and leisure
-Identify ports for the development of cruise tourism in the area (e.g. the Itea harbour -interconnection with Delphi UNESCO site)
-Develop a “smart” marinas network (for yachting, etc)
-Identify ports for the development of hydroplane facilities and services
-Specify (if possible) existing regulations for the development of marine/water sports facilities (for scuba diving, etc) in the study area
-Extend and improve existing “blue flag” beaches network
-Identify areas where land-based tourism activities  put pressure on the coastal ecosystems
-Propose special building regulations for tourism installations and facilities, as well as second homes along the coastal zone, in order to preserve the coastal landscape and scenery (natural and cultural).
-Identify areas where recreational fishery may -or may not -operate.

Energy production / networks (RES, including infrastructure, non-RES infrastructure, submarine cables and pipelines)
-Identify areas where off-shore RES (or other energy installations) are restricted due to: MPAs, heavy maritime traffic, the intensive geological phenomena and processes (earthquakes, sea-bed movement, etc).
-Propose additional restrictions and regulations for the development of off-shore energy infrastructure (RES or not), considering the existing National Spatial Plan for RES. 
-Identify new/extra needs in energy connections
-Identify new/extra needs in telecommunication connections


The planning guidelines proposed in this case study can be used as a pilot for elaborating MSPs in areas that fall under the jurisdiction of more than one regional administrative authorities and more than one terrestrial regional spatial plans. 

Responsible Entity:

UTh, NTUA (with the participation of NKUA) 

Costs / Funding Source:

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund of the European Union-through the Grant Agreement EASME/EMFF/2015/ –SUPREME


Prof. Sofia Avgerinou-Kolonia 
NTUA (skolonia[at]arch[dot]ntua[dot]gr)

Prof. Marilena Papageorgiou
UTh (marpapageo[at]uth[dot]gr)