Marine spatial planning in Romania: State of the art and evidence from stakeholders


During the last decades, increasing demands on marine resources and unsustainable activities taking place in the marine area compromise the future use of the marine environment. In July 2014 the European Parliament and Council established a Guideline Framework for marine/maritime spatial planning (MSP). MSP is a useful and cost-effective tool for sustainable development, together with regulation and protection of the marine environment. Within this context, Romania has started to proceed and incorporate it in the national legislation framework; in 2017, it has also established a competent authority for its implementation so that marine spatial plans can be enacted by 31 March 2021. In this study, a first approach for MSP framework in Romania was developed, enabling the mapping of all current human activities related to shipping, oil and gas exploitation, fisheries, tourism and environmental status, in order to identify overlaps or potential conflicts among users. This paper identifies key challenges and concerns anticipated to emerge from incorporation of MSP in the national spatial planning framework as it is currently organized: a) Romanian stakeholders have a relatively poor understanding of European, national and regional sea planning regulations, b) concerns related to MSP implementation at regulatory level, c) huge need for sharing of MSP-relevant information for a coherent planning, d) challenges of assessing the needs of interconnected ecosystems (including relevant EU and international legislation). In this context, our study covers highly actual aspects concerning the way the marine spatial planning process evolves and will contribute to deliver a coherent approach to reduce conflicts of the Romanian marine environment, a proper MSP implementation, as well as minimizing the pressures and impacts on the marine resources.

Sea Basin(s): 
Application in MSP: 
Taken into account in an MSP process
Not sector specific
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • What is the current knowledge of stakeholders regarding to MSP process implementation in Romania?
  • How to better analyse the current situation of activities undertaken in the Romanian EEZ in order to have a proper image of stakeholders' perception regarding on what is now happening in the sea?
  • What are the overlaps, potential synergies and gaps at legislative or institutional level? 

Implementation Context: 

The Romanian Black Sea coastline concentrates natural and anthropogenic features significant at national and international level and represents 5.3% of the total Black Sea coastline. In Romania's coastal regions live around 900000 people (4.5% of the total population), responsible for approx. EUR 5.5 billion of gross value added and for roughly 5% (470000 people) of total national employment. From genetically, evolutionary, morphological, ecological, socio-economic and coastal management points of view, it comprises two sectors: i) the northern part (the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve), 162 km long between Musura Bay (north of Sulina town) and Cape Midia, with great ecological value and ii) the southern part (the economic South), between Cape Midia and Vama Veche, associated with big hotels, refineries, ports and related infrastructure, under increasing economic and tourism development (Figure 1).

The Romanian coast is very competitive among economic activities such as shipbuilding and ship repair, shipping and transport, coastal and maritime tourism, fisheries or offshore oil and gas. A description of major economic sectors with strong impact and pressure on marine environment is provided in the paper (Figure 2). Due to the fact that MSP is a complex process that involves interaction between values and interests of many different stakeholders, including institutions and regulation, it was an urge for a comprehensive study of legal and institutional framework to illustrate the complexity and highlight the need for coordination between marine institutions and coastal or inland institutions.

Aspects / Objectives: 

To identify key challenges and concerns emerging from incorporation of MSP in the national spatial planning framework as it is currently organized in Romania.


GIS analyses, workshops, focus groups, interviews and questionnaires to identify gaps, barriers and conflicts.

Main Outputs / Results: 

The study identifies a big percentage of concerns related to MSP implementation at regulatory level, while the optimism appears when referring to the small amount of overlaps and conflicts. 

From policy review, the study revealed that there is a huge need for sharing of MSP-relevant information for a coherent planning in Romania, taking into account the sensitive environment and geopolitics in the Black Sea. 

During the discussions with Romanian authorities, challenges of assessing the needs of interconnected ecosystems (including relevant EU and international legislation) were identified. 

This survey has demonstrated that Romanian stakeholders have a relatively poor understanding of European, national and regional sea planning regulations. Based on this work, the authors endorse a call for key institutions and actors involved in MSP implementation to actively engage the impacted stakeholders and communities in the decisions that affect them by the instrumentality of following recommendations: a) identify stakeholders affected and ensure public participation through open meetings and workshops at each stage and at all levels, from local to national; b) Establish governance rules for authorities at central, regional and local levels; c) Draw plans and improve MSP by transparent regulations and frequent communication with stakeholders.

The MSP Committee was settled in May 2017 by the Government Decision 406/2017 to elaborate the marine spatial plan and to monitor the marine spatial plan implementation. Twenty-five institutions are represented, led by the Prime Minister and the meetings are organized every 4 months. Within this regulation, no relation refers to the link with NCCZ, like in other countries (e.g. Germany), where the same institution/committee is in charge for both process in order to assure coherence and successful application. According to the new law on MSP, the plan will be designed before January 2020 (Article no. 23-1). The institutions mentioned above are responsible for drafting the plan based on maritime needs, conflicts, pressures and opportunities. Only after finalizing the elaboration process, the MSP Committee assures public consultation with stakeholders, competent public authorities and public in order to ensure decisional transparency in public administration (Article no. 23-2).

However, the future for MSP in Romania looks promising due to the high expertise of academia involved in the national committee, but resolutions taken by this committee could fail without political will. Moreover, further steps and efforts are required to simulate and foresee marine systems dynamics and create scenarios through modelling, together with participatory actions.


The results of this study suggest that inviting marine users and regulatory institutions in the same room or table represents effective means of reducing conflict between zoning and facilitating MSP process.

Responsible Entity:

University of Bucharest & Ovidius University of Constanta

Costs / Funding Source:

Ministry of Research and Innovation - UEFISCDI Romania

Contact person:

Dr. Natasa Vaidianu