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Effective integration and integrative capacity in marine spatial planning.


Ecosystem-based management, spatial orientation, a multilevel policy framework and integration have all been identified as essential components for effective marine spatial planning (MSP). Integration is recognised by researchers, and international forums, as being essential to achieve effective ocean governance. However, integrated policy approaches are the most difficult policies to design, develop and implement. They require a holistic rather than sectoral focus; horizontal and vertical jurisdictional support and coordination; and the involvement of a diverse group of stakeholders including industry, NGOs, and local communities. Integrated policies are prone to failure but if “integrative capacity” exists, integration in MSP can contribute to its success. This paper examines the role of integration within MSP and suggests a framework for determining effective integration and “integrative capacity”. It refers to different marine spatial planning examples which demonstrate that integrative capacity can contribute to the success, failure and longevity of MSP and ecosystem-based management.

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


  • What are the principles of effective integration? 
  • What is the role of integration in MSP? 
  • How is integration applied in Australian GBRMP and AOP cases? 


The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Tasmania and the James Cook University.


The study aims to identify the variables that make integration effective, in particular, within the framework of MSP policy. 


The research included two case studies: the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Australia's Ocean Policy. The study identified and analysed 21 principles for effective integration, based on the work of Dickinson et al.  


The study highlighted the role of integration in the MSP process. It proposed the framework to be applied for an effective integration in MSP, which can be applied to other integrated policies. 


The methodology applied in this study can be used for any integration process/policy.

Responsible Entity: 

School of Social Sciences, College of Arts, Law and Education, University of Tasmania, Australia 

Centre for Marine Socio-ecology, University of Tasmania, Australia 

ARC Centre for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Australia 

Funding Source: 

University of Tasmania 

James Cook University  

Contact person: 

Joanna Vince 

John C. Day