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Determining permitted sea uses


This practice shows how permitted sea uses were determined within the Latvian MSP process, which is a core task in any MSP process.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
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Questions this practice may help answer

How to determine permitted sea uses?

Implementation Context

The determination of permitted sea uses is a core task in any MSP process.

Aspects / Objectives

Determine which uses can be conducted in what areas and under what conditions.


The below figure shows the individual elements for determining permitted sea uses.

Conceptual frame to determine permitted sea uses

The source contains information on the following uses:

  • Maritime transport and ports;
  • Fishery;
  • Marine and coastal tourism;
  • Renewable energy resources;
  • Marine aquaculture;
  • Nature conservation.

For each use, the current status and expected trends were assessed with the help of indicators as well as spatial data of the sea uses.

Indicators used and spatial data for the example of shipping and ports

Criteria for defining the spatial use of the sea were set up for each use. Generally, criteria were classified into two different types

  • Exclusion criteria for the use of the sea (mandatory conditions);
  • Coordination criteria for use of the sea (conditions that should be taken into account to ensure the application of the ecosystem-based approach as well as the sustainaable use of sea space and resources).

Criteria for defining the sptail use of the sea for the example of shipping

A conflict matrix helped to determine which uses are incompatible with each other (i.e. belonging to exclusion criteria) and which uses do not disturb or even support each other (i.e. belonging to the coordination criteria).

Matrix for analysing conflicts and synergies

Based on that, sea uses where categorised by type according:

  • Areas of priority interest (in relation to other sea uses, priority uses correspond to the priorities defined in the strategic part of the MSP);
  • Areas of potential development (e.g. renewable energy, tourism, aquaculture, in such areas, the developers need to obtain permits according to existing regulations);
  • Other types of uses of the sea and marine features, i.e. designations of informative character;
  • Areas of general use where all uses are allowed.

MSP solutios for the use of the sea for the example of shipping

In different areas, a certain sea use can be allowed in a different quality, corresponding to different categories of permitted sea uses.

Against this background, four scenarios with different MSP solutions were developed.


The approach of designating sea uses can be transferred to other MSP systems.

Responsible Entity

Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia

Contact Persons

Kristīne Kedo and Ingūna Urtāne