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Plano de Ordenamento do Espaço Marítimo (POEM)

Instituto da Água


Study setting out the economic, environmental and social importance of Portugal’s mainland sea area, showing existing and potential uses and their integrated planning and adaptive management.


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

questions this practice may help answer

  • How can a national knowledge base be created for MSP?
  • How can actual and potential maritime activities be mapped?
  • What management measures might be proposed for maritime sectors through MSP?

Implementation Context

POEM has not been implemented. However the Base Law for maritime spatial planning takes into account POEM as the reference situation for spatial planning and for the assignment of new titles for private uses.

Responsible Entity

POEM was developed by Instituto da Água between 2008 – 2010.

Since 2015, the new legal framework assigns maritime spatial planning to DGRM (General Directorate of Natural Resources and Security Maritime Services)

DGRM is working on the Maritime Spatial Plan for Portuguese waters (‘Situation Plan’). 

Aspects / Objectives


  • Gathering knowledge of and mapping maritime uses and activities (existing and potential).
  • Planning uses and activities in the maritime area and promoting land-sea integration (coastal zone management)
  • Ensuring the sustainable use of resources and the efficient use of maritime space in the framework of an integrated and intersectoral approach.
  • Defining sustainable development parameters for each activity.
  • Promoting the economic, environmental and social role of the sea.
  • Defining guidelines for the development of evaluation indicators for the sustainable performance and monitoring of maritime activities.



  • Setting the economic, environmental and social importance of the Sea, based on
  • knowledge of natural resources and activities,
  • existing and potential uses and their integrated planning and adaptive management
  • in the maritime area, in close coordination with
  • Coastal Zone Management, in line with international standards and involving different actors and agents.


POEM was developed using a methodology defined by the lead team and included four phases:

  • Reference situation and diagnosis (of the maritime area and activities; this includes characterization of different activities). Matrix (opportunities and constraints) 
  • Planning proposal (draft maps of different uses and activities: present and future, taking into account the diagnosis of the economic activities and sectoral strategies) andmanagement guidelines (protection measures for resources and sectoral economic activities)
  • Planning and monitoring programs, guidelines for management and programming and scheduling of actions
  • Public Discussion

POEM included a strategic environmental evaluation.

Main Outputs / Results

  • Maps for the Portuguese maritime area, including zoning uses and activities
  • Management guidelines
  • Monitoring program and evaluation indicators