Initial Assessment of North Atlantic MSP


This initial assessment report aims to provide a synthetic and shared overview of existing conditions and dynamics of the SIMNORAT project area.As a "living document", this report has evolved and has been updated throughout the project's duration, based upon the most recent information available from European and national sources and the works and results of its different activities.

Sea Basin(s): 
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Environment aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Key words: 

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What are the main results of the SIMNORAT project?
  • What are the biological features of the various coastal and offshore ecosystems in France, Portugal and Spain?
  • What are the maritime activities undertaken by France, Spain and Portugal in the coastal and offshore waters of the project area?
  • What are the areas subject to high levels of pressures in the coastal Spain, Portugal and France?
  • What is the current status of Maritime Spatial planning in these three countries?

Implementation Context

This study was undertaken as part of the SIMNORAT project and was constantly updated during the course of the project, based on the project’s results and the evolution of the MSP regulation in the countries. 

Main Outputs / Results

The report is divided into two main sections.

The first one, “the SIMNORAT project area: an overview” addresses the project area’s main characteristics: maritime delimitations, marine, environment, maritime activities, pressures and impacts.


The marine environment chapter gives a description of the biological features of the various coastal and offshore ecosystems based on the MSFD descriptors 1 "Biodiversity" (benthic and pelagic habitats, marine mammals, marine birds, marine turtles, cephalopods, fish species) and 4 "Food webs". It aims to identify where particularly sensitive and ecologically important areas are. 

The maritime activities undertaken by France, Spain and Portugal in the coastal and offshore waters of the project area are then examined: current situation, key figures, spatial distribution, strategies and policies, future trend are studied. In line with works and reflections led at European level, focus is made on the following key maritime sectors: fisheries, marine aquaculture, offshore oil & gas, marine aggregates, ports & shipping, submarine cables, marine renewable energies: offshore wind and ocean energy, coastal and maritime tourism.

Finally, the interactions chapter draws on the preceding chapters to identify the areas subject to high levels of pressures, and, if available, the impacts on ecosystems.

The second part of that study is called “Towards maritime spatial planning in the SIMNORAT project area”. After a quick reminder of the main overarching European legal and policy frameworks which regulate maritime activities in Europe’s regional seas, this section reviews current status of maritime spatial planning in countries bordering the project area: France, Spain and Portugal.

This section concludes with a brief summary of previous, or current, transboundary MSP-related projects for the region of interest: TPEA, MAIA, MUSES.


As this study is very specifically focusing on the SIMNORAT project area, its transferability is limited. 

Responsible Entity 

CEREMA – Expertise Centre on Risks studies, Environment, Mobility and space planning, France

AFB – French Biodiversity Agency

Costs / Funding Source

SIMNORAT was co-funded by the EC – DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) 

Contact person

Neil Alloncle 

French Biodiversity Agency