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Current Status 2014: National planning in Sweden’s territorial waters and EEZ


The report describes Sweden's marine resources and the demands on them, both now and in the future. This cross-sectoral perspective serves as a starting point for the first phase of national marine spatial planning.

Application in MSP:
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Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
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Questions this practice may help answer

  • What are potential goal conflicts and goal synergies in the Swedish EEZ?
  • What can be done to improve collaboration and deal with competing interests in the Swedish EEZ?
  • How can marine spatial planning be developed in Sweden and thereby providing opportunities for sustainable development and blue growth?
  • What follow up activities need to be executed in the process of developing Swedish MSPs?

Implementation Context

 The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, SwAM, has been commissioned to organise the Swedish national marine spatial planning. Swedish national marine spatial planning will encompass Sweden's territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone. The ambition is to convey a cross-sectoral perspective as a starting point for the first phase of the national marine spatial planning. A series of documents will be produced during the marine spatial planning process. This best practice refers to the Current Status description (CS). The document provides input for the following document, the Guiding Document (GD). The third document in the series is a proposal for a marine spatial plan (MSP). One plan is produced for each of the three planning areas (GB, BS, SK) – thus, a total of three planning proposals. One strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is produced for each marine spatial plan.

Aspects / Objectives

To provide an easily understandable picture of conditions as regards the utilisation of marine resources and the actors and claims on the sea, and is a starting point for the coming marine spatial planning process.


The process of developing the document contains multiple phases. At the start SwAM collated knowledge of the waters around Sweden and examined how other countries work with marine spatial planning. Following this, SwAM has compiled information regarding the utilisation of marine re- sources, current conditions, and possible future demands. During the work with the current status description they have acquired data from agencies involved in the marine sector and from county administrative boards. In order to expand and add more detail to the description of the current status, cooperation with any interested parties that may contribute their viewpoints and additional information was welcomed. The current status was discussed at a number of conferences during the spring of 2014, where all concerned parties had the opportunity to participate. All viewpoints and other information that stakeholders and other parties concerned submitted to the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management have been analysed and have then formed the foundation for revising this description of the current status.

Main Outputs / Results

Based on the descriptions of the current situation and the analysis, the  Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management draws the following conclusions. Geographical conclusions are presented in the chapter entitled Analysis.

Conclusions regarding potential goal conflicts and goal synergies

  • Sustainable development is an explicit goal for the majority of sector interests. Cross-sectoral interpretation of what this means for Sweden's marine resources, in terms of securing economic and social sustainability within the scope of ecological sustainability, is a fundamental issue in marine spatial planning.
  • Goal conflicts may exist in terms of the respective benefits on land or at sea, for example the extraction of natural gravel on land as opposed to extraction at sea.
  • Maintaining the ecosystem services of the sea is a prerequisite for the majority of marine activities and the benefits they provide to society. Safeguarding ecosystem services based on the needs of different interested parties has the potential to increase their benefits to society. At the same time, some marine activities can have a negative effect on environmental goals and ecosystem services. Marine spatial planning therefore has a role to contribute, based on its mandate, to the development of ecosystem services and the prevention of negative effects on the same.

Conclusions regarding collaboration and competing interests

  • Within marine spatial planning, the short-term and long-term benefits resulting from various interests and activities should be analysed with reference to the ecosystem services that the sea provides. Blue growth presupposes vigorous ecosystems.
  • In certain geographical areas there are specific needs for marine spatial planning in order to help balance the benefit and impact brought about by the various interested parties concerned.

Conclusions regarding the marine spatial planning mandate and opportunities

  • Marine spatial planning presents great opportunities to influence the localisation of permanent installations and protected areas.
  • Many marine activities are controlled by international agreements, such as shipping regulations and the EU common fisheries policy. Even if marine spatial planning has a limited direct mandate with regard to regulating marine activities, there are major opportunities to suggest suitable amendments to existing management and regulations. The marine spatial plans, which are being produced from a holistic perspective of the sea, will indicate Sweden's position and form a basis for negotiation.
  • Many of the environmental problems found in marine areas are caused by activities on land, an issue that cannot be resolved through marine spatial planning. On the other hand, activities and burdens from the land contribute to the environmental situation in the ocean, and are thus factors that must be taken into consideration in marine spatial planning.

Conclusions relevant for ongoing planning

  • Sweden has large marine areas and in several of them there are currently no spatial conflicts, however, some require detailed planning. This applies to areas that are used for multiple sectoral interests, and to areas that are particularly vulnerable and/or where there is a high risk factor.
  • The need for marine spatial planning stems from a growing pressure on the utilisation of marine resources combined with major environmental problems, and from our neighbours' plans for the adjacent marine areas.
  • Despite a deficient knowledge base, planning must be commenced using the knowledge that is available.
  • The systematic development of knowledge and mapping of marine natural values is necessary for ecosystem-based marine spatial planning.
  • Appropriate skills to work in a sectorally integrated and forward-looking manner with a holistic perspective of national planning need to be developed at several levels.
  • Cross-border issues need to be coordinated with our neighbours at an early stage in the planning process.
  • Marine spatial planning in the Baltic Sea is more complex internationally speaking since there are several neighbouring countries to consider. More countries planning increased usage in adjacent marine areas entails a need to analyse cumulative effects.
  • From an ecosystem perspective, Sweden should strive in its marine spatial planning to reach consensus with our neighbours in respect of marine conditions and the utilisation of marine resources.
  • Potential areas to be studied in greater detail have been identified. The areas to be studied in greater detail may need to be prioritised with regard to the production of data, and they may need to be planned in a greater degree of detail than other marine areas.


Although the practice refers to the Swedish EEZ, some conclusions and recommendations can be applied in others countries which are in the same phase of developing their MSPs. This does not only refer to process of data collection and defining the current status,, but also to the MSP development process in general.

Costs / Funding Source

Swedish National Government

Responsible Entity

The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM)

Box 119 30

404 39 Gothenburg, Sweden

Contact Person

Thomas Johansson

Tel: +46 (0)10-698 60 19

E-mail: (thomas[dot]johansson[at]havochvatten[dot]se)