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Marine spatial planning in Croatia – legal and technical aspects

Scientific Journal of Maritime Research 36


The introduction of marine spatial planning (hereafter: MSP) for Croatia is essential, considering the coastline length and the increasing usurpation of coastal and marine space. MSP is more than a process that regulates the activities on the sea. It is an analytical approach to the setup of human activities in the marine area. As a maritime country, Croatia has ratified the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management and undertook the obligations of the Barcelona Convention. However, an appropriate document has not yet been made that would enable quality management of marine space. MSP and its onshore version contribute to the establishment and development of various activities, taking into account environmental, natural, economic, and sociological criteria. MSP is a continuation of spatial planning of the mainland area and must undoubtedly consider the more expansive coastal environment and the activities there. One of the tools in marine area mapping is the Geographic Information System (GIS), which has proven to be a very high quality and effective tool, especially in decision-making processes. The authors analyze the existing legal framework for marine spatial planning. Particular emphasis is placed on the obligations facing the Republic of Croatia to implement marine spatial planning. Given that the paper seeks to determine the advantages of MSP implementation using modern tools in marine area mapping, the authors in the third part discuss the benefits of using GIS as an acceptable tool in mapping marine space and provide recommendations for further actions.

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

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • What is the existing legal framework for MSP in Croatia?
  • Which obligations mut be fulfilled by the Republic of Croatia to implement Maritime Spatial Planning? 
  • What advantages does the use of a Geographic information system provide for MSP implementation?

Implementation Context:

Although Maritime Spatial Planning has been introduced in Croatia, no document allowing for quality management of the maritime areas has been produced yet.

Aspects / Objectives:

This paper aims to identify the advantages brought by the implementation of MSP and highlights the benefits of using a Geographic Information System.


This paper is based on a review of previous research. It details the legal framework for Maritime Spatial Planning in Croatia and analysises the implementation of national legislation. In the context of the establishment of MSPs, the role of the GIS tool for displaying spatial data and activities in the coastal area is explained.

Main Outputs / Results:

The paper provides an overview of previous research and determines the legal determinants of MSPs and the role of spatial plans in Croatia. The authors establish recommendations for further implementation of MSP in Croatia.


This paper focuses on Croatia, but the conclusions made on GIS can be useful for MSP implementation in general.

Responsible Entity:

University of Rijeka

Costs / Funding Source:

The research presented in the paper has not been supported from an external source.

Contact person:

Mirjana Kovačić: (mirjana051[at]gmail[dot]com)

Biserka Rukavina: (biserka[dot]rukavina[at]pfri[dot]uniri[dot]hr)

Lea Perinić: (lea[dot]perinic[at]uniri[dot]hr)