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Draft MSP for the Republic of Latvia

Latvia - MSP


The Latvian MSP is a national level long-term (up to 12 years) spatial development planning document that shall define the use of the sea, considering a terrestrial part that is functionally interlinked with the sea and co-ordinating interests of various sectors and local governments in use of the sea. The MSP covers territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles) and Exclusive economic zone (from 12 nautical mile).


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

Implementation Context

The MSP includes four parts: the explanatory note; strategic sections; justification and description of permitted use of the sea; and the graphical section. Additionally during the process of MSP the following documents were prepared: environment report; suggestions for assessment of implementation effectiveness of the planning proposal; and report on stakeholder involvement and public hearing.

Legal basis

The MSP has been established in accordance with the Spatial Development Planning Law (in force since 1st December, 2011). The law defines that the MSP shall lay down the use of the sea, considering a terrestrial part that is functionally interlinked with the sea and co-ordinating the interests of different sectors and local governments in the use of the sea. The MSP has also been elaborated according to Regulation No. 740 of the Cabinet of Ministers on the Procedures for the Development, Implementation and Monitoring of the Maritime Spatial Plan (in force since 30th October, 2012). According to Regulation No. 740 of the Cabinet of Ministers, MSP is developed for the whole part of the Baltic Sea under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Latvia.

Objectives of the plan

  1. Rational and balanced use of the sea space by eliminating inter-sectoral conflicts and preserving free space for future needs and opportunities.
  2. Preserved marine ecosystem and its resilience by ensuring protection of biodiversity and averting excessive pressure from economic activity
  3. Integrated use of marine and terrestrial areas by promoting development of maritime businesses and the related infrastructure

Process / Plan development

  1. Stocktaking of the current situation and development trends (results included in the“Explanatory note”):
  2. Defining of the sea use development long-term vision, goals and tasks of the plan (results included in the “Strategic part”)
  3. Development and assessment of the sea use strategic scenarios and defining solutions of the permitted sea uses (results included in “Justification and description of the permitted sea uses”)
  4. Strategic Environmental Assessment (results presented in “Environmental Report”)
  5. Development of monitoring proposal and indicators for assessment of the MSP performance (results presented in “Suggestions for assessment of implementation effectiveness of the planning proposal”)



The development of the Latvian MSP is in accordance to HELCOM-VASAB Guideline for the implementation of ecosystem-based approach in MSP. This approach was applied within all steps of MSP development, by assessing the possible negative impacts to nature assets and ecologically significant areas and thus avoiding as much as possible the negative impacts to marine ecosystem.

Area covered

The plan includes the Internal Waters, Territorial Waters and Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Latvia. The borders of MSP are set according to the signed international agreements and hydrographically defined boundaries used by the Maritime Administration.

Designated Uses

The criteria for defining permitted use of the sea includes conditions, that should be taken into account,when allocating space for the particular use of the sea and setting limitations for other uses, in order to avoid conflicts between the sea uses sectors, to ensure compliance with the regulatory framework, nature conditions and availability of resources, as well as to minimise the negative impact on marine ecosystem.

Two categories of criteria for defining permitted use of the sea are proposed by the MSP:

  1. Exclusion criteria for use of the sea – obligatory conditions, that shall be respected when defining space for particular sea use
    1. compliance with the regulatory framework
    2. Setting a part spatially incompatible sea uses.
    3. Other sea use limiting factors
  2. Compliance/coordination criteria for use of the sea – conditions that shall be taken into account to ensure the application of the ecosystem based approach in the MSP process as well as sustainable use of the marine space and resources:
    1. Maintaining of the ecosystem integrity – the connectivity of the functionally related areas, and respecting the Baltic Sea as one, functionally interrelated ecosystem
    2. Rational use of the sea space and minimising of the sea use conflicts
    3. Promoting synergies between different uses

The four main categories for permitted uses of the sea are:

  • Areas of priority interest – the category includes the existing and potential uses of the sea essential to ensure the achievement of the priorities. The areas are established for these types of uses of the sea by excluding or setting restrictions to activities which can cause disturbances or damage to their existence or development. Uses are:
    • Shipping
    • Fishing
    • Tourism
    • National security
    • Nature Conservation
  • Areas of potential development: the category includes the potential uses of the sea (renewable energy; maritime tourism and aquaculture) for which the suitable areas are identified, taking into account limiting natural conditions, possible impact to marine ecosystem, as well as potential conflicts with other sea uses. Uses are:
    • Offshore energy development
    • Aquaculture development
    • Tourism developmnet
  • Other types of the uses of the sea and marine features that have an informative character or its location and uses are defined by the existing regulation. Uses are:
    • Navigation and port information
    • Navigation safety information
    • Coastal tourism and recreation
    • Diving
    • Fishery
    • Hydrocarbons
    • Infrastructure
    • Sewage discharge
    • Wrecks
  • Areas of general use, where all sea uses are allowed, including fishery, shipping, tourism and leisure, research, etc., as long as they are in line with exiting legal requirements and not causing significant negative impact to marine environment.


Besides the MSP text itself, a map has been created for the permitted use of the sea.

Impact on planning / decision making

The categories (Priority, Potential Development, Other types or AReas of general use) determine the Conditions and requirements for planning decisions (such as permits, regulation etc). An overview of these conditions and requirement per use can be found in the MSP document on page 36-41.

Public Participation

Stakeholder involvement is a core issue within the MSP process. Almost 400 stakeholders have been identified and contacted. These key stakeholders represent all sectors relevant to the use of the sea and planning levels.

Transboundary Consultation

Latvia is a member of the Joint HELCOM-VASAB Maritime Spatial Planning Working Group. The legal procedure for transboundary consultation is laid down in the legislation on SEA. Therefore a notification letter issued by the Environment State Bureau (under MoEPRD) was sent to the competent authorities of Estonia, Sweden and Lithuania on March 27, 2015. Cross-border consultation meetings were followed with Estonian and Lithuanian in July 2015 and January 2016.

Ministry of the Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia is taking part in the DG Environment Project “BALTIC SCOPE – Towards coherence and crossborder solutions in Baltic Sea Maritime Spatial Plans”. In the frame of the project transboundary cooperation on particular spatial planning issues will be fostered with Estonia and Sweden.

Contact Person

Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development

Ms Ingūna Urtāne

Director of Department of Spatial planning

Peldu iela 25

Riga, LV-1494

Phone: +371 66016523

e-mail: (inguna[dot]urtane[at]varam[dot]gov[dot]lv)