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A practical guide to the designation of ship corridors in maritime spatial planning


The shipping sector is one of the most prominent activities within any given maritime space so it is one the first sectors that is considered when drafting a maritime spatial plan. However, it must be noted that it does not subordinate other maritime sectors. This practical guide has been developed as a tool for maritime spatial planners to provide guidance on the designation of ship corridors in transnational areas in the Baltic region.

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:

How to designate ship corridors during the maritime spatial planning process?


Implementation Context:

This practical guide has been developed by the partnership of several planning authorities in the Interreg project Baltic LINes. The guide is strongly related and therefore also added as annex to the Baltic LINes report “Identification of transnational planning criteria for energy and shipping in the Baltic Sea”. However, the guide can also be used independently as tool for those maritime spatial planners that are looking for practical advice for the designation of ship corridors in their national sea area – regardless if they are from within the Baltic region or an absolutely different part of the world. 


Aspects / Objectives:

The guide presents a step-wise approach summarizing the most important topics to address when designating ship corridors for maritime spatial planning (MSP). It should not be seen as the one-and- only way to develop and designate ship corridors in MSP as national planning systems vary greatly and other options may be preferable. Especially when it comes to the project level, e.g. for shipping in the vicinity of offshore wind farms, thorough risk assessments have to be conducted on a case-by- case basis. 



After reviewing different national approaches and discussing the origins of similarities and differences in a broad group of maritime spatial planners from the Baltic, this guide claims to be a good example of how to prepare the first draft of ship corridor designations in MSP for national and international consultation. 


Main Outputs / Results:


This guide provides a step-wise approach to guide and inform planners on the process of designation of ship corridors during the maritime spatial planning process. The steps suggested are the following;

1. Data acquisition of IMO measures in the national sea area

1.1 Transfer of existent IMO routeing and fixed uses as a basis for intial plan drafting

1.2 Assessment of future plans for potential spatial regulation of ship traffic


2. Data acquisition and preparation of Automatic Identification System (AIS) data

2.1 Assessment of current ship traffic patterns for a first draft of ship corridor designations
2.2 Consideration of safety issues


3. Assessment of political goals and policies that impact the shipping sector

3.1 Assessment of economic development and industrial developments in the shipping sector
3.2 Assessment of changing natural conditions impacting the shipping sector
3.3 Indication of an area with changing spatial needs for shipping in the future


4. Assessment of spatial demands across sectors

4.1 Indication of potential conflicts between different uses
4.2 Development of planning solutions


5. Assessment of transnational ship traffic

5.1 Analysis of designated ship corridors along borders
5.2 Alignment of ship corridors across borders

6. Categorization of areas for shipping

6.1 Designation of shipping corridors 




 Although the initiative focuses on the Baltic Sea region, this guide could be adapted to other sea basins. 



Responsible Entity:

Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH)


Costs / Funding Source:

The Baltic LINes project is cofinanced by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme 2016-2020.


Contact person:

Nele Meyer

Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH) (nelekristin[dot]meyer[at]bsh[dot]de)