ESaTDOR Typology of Maritime Regions


This report presents the final results of an Applied Research Project conducted within theframework of the ESPON 2013 Programme. This is the first time that ESPON has explicitly looked to the seas as part of European space and not simply as an adjunct to the land or as a barrier to territorial development. ESaTDOR seeks to understand land and sea interactions as an integrated whole and hence to explore territorial (broadly defined) development opportunities and risks for Europe’s maritime regions.

Application in MSP: 
Applied in a related process
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Land-sea interactions
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 

Questions this practice may help answer

  • How can a typology of maritime regions that considers the varying intensity of land sea interactions be produced?
  • What does a European Typology of Maritime Regions look like?
  • How might a typology of maritime regions inform policy on both land and sea?

Implementation Context

European policy is making increasing reference to the marine environment as integral to the territorial agenda. The Territorial Agenda of the European Union 2020 agreed in Gödöllő, Hungary in May 2011 states: “Maritime activities are essential for territorial cohesion in Europe… Such planning should be integrated into the existing planning systems to enable harmonious and sustainable development of a land-sea continuum”. (Informal Ministerial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Spatial Planning and Territorial Development, 2011, paragraph 55). Also, the Common Strategic Framework which seeks to develop place-based integrated funding packages for 2014-2020 emphasises regional seas as functional areas within which strategic investments can be made. In addition, DG Mare, through its Blue Growth Strategy, is drawing attention to the growth potential offered by the seas and oceans. Regional seas activities in the Baltic, Atlantic, North Sea and Adriatic and elsewhere are also developing. Maritime considerations are therefore increasingly being linked to territorial cohesion agendas. This project, as part of the ESPON 2013 programme, sits within these broader maritime and territorial policy contexts. This was the first time that ESPON explicitly looked to the seas as part of European space and not simply as an adjunct to the land or as a barrier to territorial development. ESaTDOR sought to understand land and sea interactions as an integrated whole and hence to explore territorial (broadly defined) development opportunities and risks for Europe’s maritime regions.

Aspects / Objectives

  • Defining and mapping different types of sea use and land/sea interactions across Europe with the objective of creating a typology of different types of coastal/sea regions.
  • Understanding maritime development opportunities and risks associated with different types of coastal/sea regions.
  • Ensuring the typology is developed using consistent data across European Seas – the Arctic, Baltic, Mediterranean, North Sea, Black Sea and European Atlantic area.


Given the broad scope of this research, the methodological approach was structured along two complementary dimensions. First there was a thematic dimension which included analysis of key sectoral or thematic perspectives and work included the identification of Europe-wide data sets which could provide a comparative picture of current conditions across maritime space. The second dimension focused on the six regional seas in question (the European parts of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans and the Baltic, North, Mediterranean and Black Seas), by examining the current conditions in relation to the themes of the study, distilling the special attributes of each sea and investigating current and future orientated territorial development opportunities and risks.

A third activity was mapping the data in an integrated and comparable manner to explore land-sea interactions. For this purpose a 10x10km grid square system was used. Maps were based around three considerations: economic activity (on land), environment (largely marine and coastal) and flows (through the sea, of goods people and services). By combining these data sets a maritime region typology was established, measuring the intensity of maritime activities by reference to hot and cold spots of high or low intensity.

Main Outputs / Results

The typology map indicates the varying intensity of land-sea interactions expressed by types of maritime regions – these are the European Core, where land-sea interactions are at their most intense, through Regional Hubs, Transition, Rural and Wilderness regions where land-sea interactions are at their least intense.

From the typology and consideration of the opportunities and risks that might be faced by each maritime region, it is clear that land-sea interactions are dynamic and careful consideration needs to be given in thinking about the policy implications of different developmental scenarios which explicitly consider these dynamics.

Overall, this research highlights that the seas matter for territorial cohesion. They are spaces that offer development opportunities and should therefore be considered as integral to territorial development. However this brings with it challenges. How should these development opportunities be managed? All activities carry risks and can lead to competition with other interests. There is a growing recognition that good governance is a key pre-requisite to managing these conflicting claims and to achieving integrated territorial development.


The European Maritime Region Typology could be a useful reference point for national MSP activities as it enables more localised areas to be set within and compared with the wider European context.  In addition the methodology for distinguishing different types of maritime region could be adapted to other data sets and applied at different scales and could be useful for identifying varying levels of land sea interactions and for considering a differentiated approach to policy development perhaps emphasising protection of quieter more rural seas.

Responsible Entity

University of Liverpool

Costs / Funding Source



Contact Person

Name: Sue Kidd, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool