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The Way Forward on Ecosystem-Based Marine Spatial Planning in the EU

Coastal Management


Marine spatial planning (MSP) is currently practiced by almost half of the world’s nations. While some countries are working on their second, third or fourth round of MSP, many are going through their first round of marine spatial planning. Thus, there are experiences to share and to reflect upon. Current practices of MSP show a minimum of ecosystem-based approaches, which indicates a need to develop the practice further. This paper examines and compares best practices, selected by MSP experts, of how to take an ecosystem-based approach in MSP and presents a list of concrete actions for an ecosystem-based approach. The consulted experts consider close connections to other policies, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Habitat Directive, as key to an ecosystem-based MSP process. While most experts think there is a need for more, preferably localized and specific, guidelines, some find the existing guidelines adequate but the knowledge of how to operationalize them inadequate. The selection of best practices is diverse and suggests many different ways to practice ecosystem-based MSP.

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This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Contact person:

Trine Skovgaard Kirkfeldt

Department of Planning, Centre for Blue Governance, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark


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