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Multi-Use of the Sea: from Research to Practice

SHS Web of Conferences 58, 01025 (2018)


The increasing demand for ocean resources exerts an increasing pressure on the use of ocean space across all European Sea Basins. This underlines issues of compatibility (or conflicts) between different maritime uses as well as between economic activities and environmental protection. The idea of multi-use (MU), as a guiding concept for efficient allocation of compatible activities in the same marine space, can increase spatial efficiency and at the same time provide socio-economic and environmental benefits. However, its transition from a concept to real-world development is facing several barriers. Based on analysis of five European sea basins done under the Horizon 2020 MUSES project (Multi-Use in European Seas), this paper aims to clarify the concept of MU by discussing: 1) the definition in the literature and practice so far, and; 2) how existing regulatory and planning regimes are supporting and challenging the development of several MUs (considered as the most promising). The analytical methodology developed for the MUSES project relied on data collected via desk research and semi structured interviews with key stakeholders (e.g. industry, regulators), over the period of seven months. The semi-quantitative analysis of data conducted, identified the commonalities and differences among countries in respect to each of the analyzed MUs. The paper points out priorities for the MU development in different sea basins and recommends initial steps to overcome existing barriers, whilst maximizing local benefits. This paper is a starting point towards a broader scientific debate on: (i) what could be the role of management policies (like for instance maritime spatial planning - MSP) in supporting and fostering MU concept development, (ii) what are technical and technological challenges for technically advanced MUs, (iii) how added values of MUs concept (e.g. benefits for local economies, positive impacts on environment) could be enhanced.

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

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How the maritime uses can be combined in the framework of a multi-use project?
  • How physical conditions influence the potentialities of multi-use in the European sea basins?
  • What are the most relevant multi-use combinations for each European sea basin?

Implementation Context:

The study was carried out in cooperation between the European academic and research institutions, networks and consultancy companies.

Aspects / Objectives:

The paper provides an overview of the multi-use concept and its application in the European and National projects.


The authors identify the uses that were combined in the framework of multi-use projects, both at the European and National level, and highlight the degree of compatibility of these uses. 

Main Outputs / Results:

The study highlights the most relevant multi-use combinations for each sea basin, taking into consideration the differences in terms of physical conditions (i.e. wind, waves, tides etc.). The study further provides conclusions on topics requiring further research.


The study concerns all European Sea basins. 

Responsible Entity:

Maritime Institute in Gdansk, Poland

Funding Source:

EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under the Grant Agreement no. 727451.

Contact person:

Joanna Przedrzymirska