Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Marine spatial planning and ocean accounting: Synergistic tools enhancing integration in ocean governance

Marine Policy - Volume 136


Ocean decision-makers are tasked with balancing social, economic, and environmental considerations when addressing complex policy challenges and achieving strategic objectives, such as conservation targets, or sustainable and ocean-based economic development agendas. Like many common environmental assets, oceans have been impacted by a history of imperfect governance resulting in substantial negative consequences for these important socio-ecological systems. Aligning and managing multiple trade-offs between policy targets for the management of human activities in the marine domain has been increasingly attempted using Marine Spatial Planning (MSP). More recently, Ocean Accounting (OA) has appeared as a framework that extends national, environmental, and ecosystem accounting, and provides a structure to integrate the information describing ocean ecosystems and their changing relationships with society and the economy. Globally, MSP is therefore employed to prioritise actions towards strategic objectives, while OA is being developed to centralise, standardise, and integrate ocean information. As awareness of human dependence on healthy ocean ecosystems has increased, the use of both MSP and OA has grown rapidly across the world, and intersections between the two frameworks, both geographically and theoretically are emerging. To inform both MSP and OA communities of practice, this paper explores their role in strategic ocean governance, and how synergies may be enhanced to further an understanding of complex ocean systems. Thoughtfully aligned, the two frameworks might work together with OA providing dynamic inputs to an adaptive MSP process. The early recognition of synergies between the two frameworks, and their potential for co-development, is considered imperative to advance effective ocean governance.

Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Key words:

Main Outputs / Results:

  • Ocean Accounting and Marine Spatial Planning are frameworks used in strategic decision making for the Ocean.
  • Marine Spatial Planning provides focus areas and objectives that align with an accounting framework.
  • Ocean Accounting provides a foundation to integrate social, economic, and environmental dimensions within MSP.
  • Ocean Accounting supports marine spatial plan formulation, monitoring, and evaluation.

Contact person:

Jordan Gacutan (j[dot]gacutan[at]student[dot]unsw[dot]edu[dot]au)



Access to this full article is subject to subscription or fees. If you have difficulties accessing the scientific articles, please contact your institution.