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TPEA Pilot Areas Report


Evidence of MSP authorities working together on defining transborder issues, collecting and sharing data, creating common GIS platform, undertaking stakeholder engagement etc.

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 can cooperation be achieved across borders, whilst respecting different national and sub-national approaches to MSP?
  • How can MSP authorities share data and develop a cross-border profile of their marine areas?

Implementation Context

The project sought to deliver a commonly agreed approach to cross-border MSP in the European Atlantic region and to trial this in two distinct geographical and political contexts. Two case study areas were chosen, one in a southern (Portugal/Spain) and one in a northern (Ireland/Northern Ireland) planning context.  The Pilot Areas Report sets out the overall TPEA approach and detailed results for the pilot areas.  It emphasises the need for authorities to work together, developing joint objectives, sharing their capacity and skills, communicating effectively, fostering cross-border stakeholder engagement and producing joint outputs.

Aspects / Objectives

  • Based on an overall study of the conditions (legal, administrative, technical and social), and in the development of pilot studies in transboundary areas, to develop recommendations for a cross-border MSP process for application within project region sea areas that are characterised by multiple demands and potentials.
  • To demonstrate the wider potential for cross-border MSP via dissemination of experience from the project and formulation of recommendations for overcoming barriers and progressing cross-border MSP.




Setting principles and strategic objectives

The transboundary approach developed by TPEA is based on the principles established by the Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning. Additional strategic objectives were drawn up by the project partners to guide the transboundary planning approach in both pilot areas.

Establishing the pilot area

Two pilot areas were selected from a total of four candidate sites in Northern Ireland, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Selection took into account governance and administrative aspects, geographical features, main uses and activities, planning and management and practical issues (such as data availability and existing expertise). Broad provisional areas were selected initially and later refined in light of available information.

Creating a common system of information (including the GIS)

To support the subsequent phases (diagnosis and planning), a Geographical Information System (GIS) was designed as an essential tool for storing, visualising and managing geographical data.



Area characteristics

Based on available information the pilot areas where characterized in terms of biophysical features, their continuity/contiguity across borders and existing infrastructures.

Identifying uses and activities

Existing uses and activities in the pilot areas were identified and characterized in terms of distribution, intensity and impacts. Current and potential conflicts and synergies among uses and activities were also analysed in conjunction with stakeholders in workshop discussions.

Analysing the governance framework

Existing transboundary agreements and initiatives in the pilot regions were analysed together with legal and policy instruments and national/regional priorities for maritime and coastal issues. The decision process was also analysed, highlighting the main differences and similarities between countries. Licensing procedures for maritime activities were studied as well as the responsibilities of the competent institutions involved.

Identifying priority uses and activities

At the workshop discussions relevant information on the pilot areas was integrated to identify the most likely priority uses and activities. The socio-economic relevance of priority uses and activities was evaluated very generally based on the main trends and strategic priorities identified. A quantification of socio-economic values was not possible due to lack of information at the appropriate scale.

Determining the cross-border relevance of priority uses and activities

The relevance of each priority use/activity for the transboundary context was determined by analysing if the use/activity exploits a shared resource, represents a cross-border activity and/or implies cross-border impacts.

Identifying areas of common interest

With the stakeholders in workshop discussions areas of interest were identified for both parties, defined as areas of potential situations of pressure/synergy requiring appropriate measures and ultimately joint planning for sustainable use.



Establishing specific objectives

With deeper knowledge of each pilot area and key issues identified, specific objectives were developed in conjunction with the stakeholders accordance with the particular needs of, and aspirations for, each pilot area.

Exploring planning alternatives

For each area of common interest, different future situations were simulated based on the priority uses and activities identified. Options reflected convergences or divergences of interest or possibilities for compromise between the interests of the two neighbouring countries. For each situation, possible governance mechanisms were studied, looking at the public institutions that would need to be involved and the main interested stakeholders. This lays the ground for evaluating the degree to which each planning alternative meets the established pilot area objectives.

Developing planning documents

Based on all the previous steps and on stakeholders inputs a set of recommendations was developed for each pilot area accompanied by appropriate guidelines for their implementation. Whenever needed more detailed recommendations were presented for specific areas of common interest.


Stakeholder engagement

A series of three workshops was held in each pilot area as the primary means of stakeholder engagement. This aimed to involve stakeholder groups in the full range of TPEA activities and capture their opinions and knowledge for inclusion in the transboundary planning process.


Process evaluation

Based on evaluation literature and past experience with MSP evaluation, a checklist was drawn up to evaluate the TPEA process in the two pilot areas. The checklist contains a series of criteria for TPEA evaluation in line with the fundamental stages of preparation, diagnosis and planning, and indicators to enable each criterion to be evaluated. Recommendations are also made for outcomes and impacts evaluation at a later stage should any planning proposals be implemented. The checklist was tested in both pilot areas and used to assess the transboundary planning process.

This image shows the Southern Pilot area

Main Outputs / Results

  • A detailed report on the approach and methodology applied to this cross-border exercise.
  • Two technical supplements, one for the northern pilot area (Northern Ireland – Ireland), one for the southern pilot area (Portugal – Spain), providing a detailed description of the two pilot areas, covering:
    • The northern pilot area:
      • Maritime space and coastal zone characteristics
        • Bathymetry and Hydrography
        • Bedrock Geology
        • Sediment Quality and Contamination
        • Water Quality and Contamination
      • Transboundary uses and activities
        • Natural Heritage
        • Commercial Fisheries
        • Cables and Pipelines
        • Underwater Archaeology
        • Aquaculture
        • Ports and Navigation
        • Shipping Movements
        • Marine Dredging and Disposal
        • Recreational Activities
        • Nautical Activities
        • Bathing Sites
        • Power Generation
        • Military Activities
        • Coastal Defence
        • Social-economic issues
        • Policy and Governance framework
        • Policy and governance overview
        • Tourism
        • Renewable Energy
        • Biodiversity
        • Climate Change
        • Aquaculture
    • The southern pilot area:
      • Pilot area characteristics
        • Maritime space and coastal zone characteristics
        • Physicochemical characteristics
        • Meteorology
        • Geology
        • Oceanography
        • Biological characteristics
        • Species
        • Habitats
        • Underwater archaeology
        • Coastal zone
        • Coastal geomorphology
        • Coastal development and population
        • Infrastructures
        • Ports
        • Exploitation wells of hydrocarbons exploration
        • Cables and pipelines
        • Coastal defence
        • Artificial reefs
        • Submarines outfalls
        • Lights and buoys
        • Nature conservation features
        • Protected areas
        • Habitats
        • Species
      • Pilot area uses and activities
        • Maritime transport
        • Shipping lanes/traffic
        • Cross-border ferries
        • Shipbuilding
        • Maritime safety
        • Fisheries
        • Fisheries, fishing grounds and commercial fish stocks
        • Processing industry of fishery products
        • Aquaculture
        • Marine biotechnology
        • Laying pipelines and cables
        • Exploitation of non-living natural marine resources 
        • Oil and gas industry
        • Sand and gravel extraction and mining
        • Dumping
        • Military activities
        • Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
        • Recreational activities
        • Beaches and bathing sites
        • Nautical activities
        • Tourism infrastructures
        • Power generation
        • Ports and Places of Refuge
        • Ports
        • Places of Refuge
        • Marine Scientific Research
        • Wrecks and other historic features
        • Other uses
        • Seawater abstraction
        • Water rejection
        • Salt pans
        • Noise
        • Marine litter


The report provides a example of how a process can be put in place to support the development of capacity for cross-border MSP and put in place a planning process.  It also provides two detailed examples of data-gathering for cross –border areas and how this can be used in developing a profile of a cross-border area with regard to marine characteristics and  maritime activities.

Responsible Entity

European Commission (DG Mare) provided co-funding.

Costs / Funding Source

Costs:  1 million euros
Funding Source: European Commission

Direct costs of this practice elaboration are unknown. 

Contact Person


Dr Stephen Jay (stephen[dot]jay[at]liverpool[dot]ac[dot]uk)