D49 Malta: Outcome of MSP user survey

Sea Basin(s): 
September 2021
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Social aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Develop and implement plan
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Integrated Coastal Zone Management

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How do Maltese citizens relate to the on-going MSP process?
  • What are the citizens' perspectives of the blue economy and of the seas?
  • How should citizens and recreational users of the sea be engaged in MSP processes?

Implementation Context:

This study was conducted in the framework of the MSP-MED project, which aims to favour the Maritime Spatial Planning process in the Mediterranean Sea, by supporting the establishment of coherent and coordinated plans across the Mediterranean marine regions and between Member States, in line with the MSP Directive objectives. One specific objective of MSP-MED is to support the work of the MSP Competent Authorities in the establishment and adoption of maritime spatial plans. In Malta, the Competent Authority for the MSP Directive is the Planning Authority, therefore responsible for the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED), as Malta’s first MSP plan. The Planning Authority is a partner to the MSP-MED project and is expected to contribute, in particular, to Work Package 2 - Setting-up of maritime spatial plans, with a focus on governance aspects. Further to the Government’s decision in late 2020 to officially kick start the review of the SPED, and with the MSPMED travel budget not utilised due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the PA proposed to carry out a communications strategy linked with the SPED review to further inform the MSPMED Deliverable D16, by focusing on stakeholder engagement as an integral aspect of MSP governance.

Aspects / Objectives:

The survey aims at providing further insight on stakeholders’ engagement in the development and implementation of MSP plans, looking at the Maltese SPED as a case-study. It should contribute to the Planning Authority's communication strategy and feed into a set of videos to raise awareness on MSP.


This survey, disseminated among Maltese citizens, is based on a set of 14 questions to cover the following aspects:

  • Age, education level and employment.
  • Type of employment/area of study; whether or not it is related to the sea, whether or not one expects to be in the same line of work in 10 years’ time and why.
  • Type of recreational use of the sea undertaken, whether or not one expects to be practicing the same activity in 10 years’ time and why.
  • What is the future potential for the sea.
  • Willingness to actively contribute to the preparation of plans that regulate sea use; suggestions to improve participation.

Main Outputs / Results:

The survey results have identified three points that are considered of relevance for the process of the MSP Plan review, and which are interlinked:

  • Lack of awareness and willingness to engage in policy making by the public
  • Lack of consideration of the recreational value of the sea
  • Lack of understanding of the socio-economic potential of the sea for Blue Growth

The three main recommendations that emerge from this MSP user survey are the following:

  • Utilise ocean literacy in public/stakeholder engagement exercises: more effort is needed to engage stakeholders and the public in MSP plan making and review, where ocean literacy should play a significant part to increase awareness and gradually empower more active participation.
  • Elements to consider for SPED review: the MSP user survey results suggest that there is a need to consider the role of the sea for public recreation and well-being, at the same level other economic sectors are considered to avoid displacement or loss of space used by the public.
  • Governance for MSP - MSPMED Work Package 2: task D16.1: One of the main deliverables expected by the PA within the MSMPED project is an evaluation report on the links between different national plans addressing Malta’s marine waters. Since the deliverable is linked to governance, especially the role of stakeholders and the public in MSP, it is recommended that the outcomes of this survey are used to contribute towards the preparation of the first deliverable D16.1 concerning governance for MSP.


The survey methodology, as well as its results and associated recommendations can contribute to MSP implementation in the Mediterranean and further afield in Europe.

Responsible Entity:

Maltese Planning Authority (PA)

Costs / Funding Source:

The work described in this report was supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund of the European Union - through the Grant Agreement number 887390 - MSPMED- EMFF-MSP2019, corresponding to the Call for proposal Call EMFF-MSP-2019 (Maritime Spatial Planning). Topic: EMFF-MSP-2019 Type of action: EMFF-AG for Projects on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP).

Contact person:

Michelle Borg - michelle.borg@pa.org.mt