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Workshop on Multi-Disciplinary Case Studies of MSP



A workshop was held to demonstrate how HELCOM/VASAB, OSPAR, and ICES can contribute and cooperate to the further development of the process of ecosystem-based marine spatial planning.

Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Implementation Context

Marine Spatial Planning is a field under rapid development with many new planning processes under way or in the pipeline around the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. It was a general consensus that regular meetings between the sponsoring organisa-tions to share experiences and to develop the science and methods for MSP is of significant value. The WKMCMSP is a continuation of a strategic process started by ICES in 2010 leading to the Workshop on the “Science for area-based management: Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning in Practice“ (WKCMSP) in 2010 and to the cur-rent workshop. Further cooperation between HELCOM, VASAB, OSPAR and ICES in organising workshops and meetings is strongly supported.


  • Demonstrate how HELCOM/VASAB, OSPAR, and ICES can contribute and cooperate to further development of the process of ecosystem-based marine spatial planning Reinforcing and extending the existing networks of MSP practitioners by sharing knowledge and experience between scientists, managers and plan-ners
  • Test how spatial data from the various organisations can be used in devel-opment of an MSP plan
  • Explore how the socioeconomic and environmental aspects can be jointly in-corporated into the development of a Marine Spatial Plan
  • Share knowledge and exchange experiences on MSP
  • Identify significant cross border constraints and opportunities and explore ways of resolving or capitalising on these
  • Use serious gaming to stress-test the plan making process to identify the main scientific, planning and governance challenges facing development of MSP plans
  • Follow-up and build on the ICES CMSP Workshop held in Lisbon, Nov 2010 as well as the work of the joint HELCOM/VASAB Working Group on MSP and the OPSAR working group on marine


A 2 day workshop covering different subjects was held to discuss development of the process of ecosystem-based marine spatial planning, discussing for example:

  • Stakeholders
  • Governance and planning the process
  • Roles, use of data and knowledge
  • Transboundary issues
  • Socioeconomics
  • Cumulative effects
  • Implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Visual aspects (limits of the game)

Main Outputs / Results

Conclusions of workshop

  • There should be continued cooperation between HELCOM-VASAB, OSPAR and ICES through future joint workshops and the exchanging information and best practices. Working jointly has significant benefits and delivers more than each organisation could achieve individually. The ICES Working Group on Marine Planning and Coastal Zone Management is one significant plat-form to support cooperation between the four sponsoring organisations
  • Transnational consultations on national planning should take place as early as possible in planning process.
  • In planning multipliable use of space should be encouraged in preference to single use.
  • Planning processes should be clear and transparent but it is also important that they are flexible and adaptive in order to respond to issues as they arise. Establishing milestones within the process itself is helpful as it breaks it down into manageable work packages.
  • The links between marine and land use planning are important and mecha-nisms to achieve consistency between both should be developed. The HELCOM VASAB approach in the Baltic exemplifies this.
  • Communication between scientists and planners needs to be strengthened so that planners understand what science can deliver and science delivers it in an appropriate format for use in the planning process e.g. habitat vulnera-bility maps rather than habitat maps and maps of goods and services.
  • High-tech mapping can be useful in the planning process but can also be a barrier to participation -paper maps can be a more effective communication method and ensure wider participation.
  • The realisation of ambitious goals for offshore wind farms should be accom-panied by transnational ecosystem planning to ensure others users and eco-logical values are adequately considered.
  • Changing financial environments can result in permitted developments not taking place. This makes the assessment of cumulative environmental ef-fects difficult and methods for estimating cumulative effects need to evaluate which projects (existing, permitted and planned) should be considered.
  • MSP Challenge 2011 is an extremely useful learning and training tool and the workshop participants recommend its inclusion in national and interna-tional training courses such as the ICES training programme.


The issues discussed are pan-European and relevant for other organisations and MSP authorities too.

Responsible Entities

Helsinki Commission


VASAB - Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (info[at]vasab[dot]org)


OSPAR Commission (secretariat[at]ospar[dot]org)


International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) (info[at]ices[dot]dk)