ICES Journal of marine science
Many coastal nations have embraced marine spatial planning (MSP) as a solution to maintaining ecological integrity of marine environments, while ensuring continued provisioning of economic, social, and cultural benefits. However, evidence supporting the idea that plans achieve—or are likely to achieve—these goals is limited. One gap in our understanding stems from questions surrounding the metrics against which MSP success is measured. Evaluation can be based on explicitly stated objectives or might include metrics corresponding to broad social–ecological goals. This paper compares aspirational MSP goals gleaned from a literature review to the objectives extracted from 50+ finalized and implemented plans to better understand: (1) how well these two groupings align, and (2) in what ways any misalignment may shape MSP evaluation. Findings show that plans prioritize the environment, economy, and governance, while often excluding objectives related to cultural heritage, human well-being, Indigenous rights, human safety, and climate change. Social and cultural objectives have become more prevalent over time, yet overall stated objectives remain distinct from theorized MSP goals. As international efforts aim to expand MSP, narrowing the gap between how it is perceived and how its outcomes are evaluated is critical to better understanding what it is likely to achieve.
Questions this practice may help answer:
- How should MSP objectives be categorised in order for them to be evaluated?
- What are the expected outcomes of the MSP approach identified in the scientific literature?
- How are the objectives identified in the literature translated into effective MSP?
Maritime Spatial Planning initiatives have been developed worldwide as a management tool for maritime activities and marine space in order to maintain the good ecological status of the marine and coastal environment. Nevertheless, MSP evaluation and monitoring is not sufficiently assured to assess whether the approach is living up to these expectations
Aspects / Objectives:
This study aims to provide a comparative analysis of the expected outputs and benefits of Maritime Spatial Planning from a theoretical perspective, with the effective outcomes of implemented plans.
The research is based on:
- literature review and expert elicitation on MSP social-ecological goals.
- survey of marine spatial plans.
- data analysis focusing on MSP objectives
Main Outputs / Results:
The article provides an overview of MSP real outcomes regarding several objectives (economy, biodiversity, cultural heritage, social justice, etc.). It also drafts recommendations to improve the potential of MSP, especially regarding social and cultural areas.
This paper provides analysis for the evaluation of MSP, expected and effective, outcomes ad can contribute to similar initiatives.
This work was supported by the Gordan and Betty Moore Foundation (grant number 4506) with additional support provided by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) under funding received from the National Science Foundation (grant number DBI-1639145).
Costs / Funding Source:
This work was supported by the Gordan and Betty Moore Foundation (grant number4506) with additional support provided by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) under funding received from the National Science Foundation (grant numberDBI-1639145).
Rachel Zuercher: rachel.zuerchergmail.com (rachel[dot]zuercher[at]gmail[dot]com)