Marine Spatial Planning

MarineSpatial Planning



MarineSpatial Planning (MSP) is a general procedure for evaluating andplacement of human activities that take place in the marine areas toensure that the marine life is not affected while humans can attainthe maximum advantages from the expanse at the same time. MSPincorporates the organization of highly used aquatic regions in a waythat sustains the biodiversity while at the same time getting thefull economic benefits from that region (Ehler et al., 2009). Thesteps that are undertaken ensure that all the aspects of theecosystem are adequately protected and safeguarded from any adversehuman activities. MSP is therefore only applied to activities ofpeople and how these activities can be managed and controlled. Thisfact is because the marine ecosystem and biodiversity cannot beplanned as they occur naturally. Several characteristics defineeffective MSP (Day, 2015). These features include

Afocus based on the ecosystem:Every strategy employed in this topic should have a central focusthat works towards the preservation of the marine ecosystem.

Integration:MSP Strategies should involve all agencies and organizations that allwork towards protection of the marine biodiversity.

Adaptive:All the steps included in the planning process should adjust inaccordance to the impacts that might result from the actionsimplemented.

MSPis an essential endeavor. Every plan and work that is done produceseveral effects that have significant advantages to the well-being ofthe marine life as well as the economic benefits to the humans.However, most of the human activities that take place in the oceansoccur at different levels. These activities include watertransportation, mining, fishing and even generation of electricity.All these activities take place without prior integration. They,therefore, occur without consideration of the effects that mightresult in other activities or whether the aquatic life is affected.This situation results in conflict. These conflicts involve the humanbeings and each other as well as the human beings and the ocean. Thisproblem leads to a point where the ocean can no longer provide allthe benefits needed as well as maintaining the integrity of thenatural life. To make the situation worse, the leaders involved withmaritime issues only act once a crisis has taken place. They do notadequately plan for different scenarios and how they can prevent themfrom happening. Thus, the importance of MSP arises from suchsituations. It is based on future impacts and works on addressingevery outcome that might result from human activities in the oceans.The need for spatial planning is because all the resources that areneeded in the oceans are located in different areas and others tendto shift due to climatic conditions. Special management and spaceallocation is required so that each activity gets its space withoutinterfering with other activities (Douvere, 2008).

Theresources obtained from the marine areas are mainly of three kinds.The first are renewable resources that include marine animals forfood and leisure, medicine, seaweed, materials such as forconstruction and ornaments, and energy such as the wind and tidal(Punt, et al., 2009). The non-renewable resources are minerals, oil,and gas. The third kind of marine resource is known as renewableservices that include habitats, tourism and recreational areas, wasteprocessing, and marine waterways. All these resources can be accessedwithout any conflict with the proper use of MSP.

Benefitsof MSP

Thebenefits that arise from this entire process are categorized intothree different sectors. These include the ecological benefits, theeconomic benefits and social benefits (Day, 2015).


Theapplication of MSP involves significant benefits to the ecosystem.These benefits include recognition of vital areas for the marinelife and the ecosystem in general, the aims of the biodiversity areinclusive of the decision-making processes, the source of conflictand its resolution between human beings and nature is identified,space for conservation of biodiversity is set aside, a system ofidentifying protected areas is established, and the adverse humaneffects on the marine ecology are significantly reduced.


Theeconomic benefits from this process are a lot more than without it.These benefits are recognition of well-suited values within specificlocations, reduction of conflict between different human activities,safer operations while undertaking marine activities, greaterefficiency in the use of space and resources, integrity in licenseallocation for marine activities and better planning for new humanactivities inclusive of new technology.


Thesocial benefits that come from these ventures include the followingmore opportunities for the general public to participate in,employment opportunities and income distribution and preservation ofintrinsic social values and practices such as oceans being an openspace used for soul searching.

StepsInvolved in MSP

Thisentire process involves ten major steps that ensure all the resourcesare well allocated, and their uses are not in discord with any otheraspect that includes the oceanic world. These ten steps do notnecessarily work step by step but can occur randomly regarding theissues that have to be handled first. These steps are Needidentification and authority establishment, procurement of funds,process organization by pre-planning, forming stakeholderinvolvement, definition and analysis of current situations,description and evaluation of future situations, preparation andapproval of the spatial management plan, implementation andenforcement, monitoring and performance evaluation, and adaptation ofthe aquatic space management method (Gilliland &amp Laffoley, 2008).These strategies are discussed in more detail below.

1.Need identification and authority establishment

Theneed for developing a Marine Spatial Plan results from the adverseeffects that human activities have impacted into the oceans.Therefore, the primary concern to the commencement of this planshould be to provide a safe habitat for all marine life whileproviding safe ways that human beings can access the resources withinthe oceans. Establishing an authority that will implement and enforcethis plan is another crucial stage. Usually, the two authorities areseparate. The authority that will enforce the protocols implementedis commonly in existence already. An implementation authority istherefore created from scratch. The best way of doing this part is bycreating legislation that seeks to protect the marine biodiversity.An example is a legislation that was set up in Australia in the 1970sthat created the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority whichimplemented the Marine Spatial Plans (Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkAuthority, 1975). Regardless, this method uses a lot of time beforeit can begin to operate. Another approach is to improve an existinglegislation to cater for the needs of the MSPs approaches. Thisstrategy is less time consuming and a new authority can be quicklyenacted. The third method is working on legislation that is alreadyin the process of being passed into law. Minor modifications areapplied to suit the needs of the MSP.

2.Procurement of funds

Withoutsufficient funding, the MSP is hard to implement. This venture isusually government sponsored. However, this bit is only tackled inthe research section. The full resources required to see through thisplan needs more funds that the government may fail to obtain from therevenue coffers. Other financial sources can be identified. Thesefunds can be gotten through donations from other governments, grantsfrom international organizations or partnership with private sectorswithin the country that wants to apply MSP. Each option for fundinghas several critical issues that have to be addressed beforeconsideration. The reason for doing this is to ensure that the fundsneeded for this plan will continue flowing in for as long as they areneeded (Pomeroy &amp Douvere, 2008). Eventually, when the MSP beginsfunctioning correctly, it will return all the funds needed to sustainit and then some.

3.Process organization by pre-planning

Thebest way of organizing the MSP is through the approach ofobjective-orientation. The objectives are set according to theproblems that are identified within the marine area. These objectiveshave their goals and work as signals on whether the plan is workingor not. It is essential to create a good team that will adequatelyfunction by creating these objectives and setting the goals. The teamshould have the necessary combination of individuals that will worktowards achieving the goals set out. These people do not have to benecessarily from fields such as biology, geography, and ecology butshould have the personal characteristics and innovative power toperform in agreement with the MSP (Gilliland &amp Laffoley, 2008).

4.Forming stakeholder involvement

Sincethe objectives of the MSP revolve around the ecological, economic andsocial needs, the stakeholder participation is crucial. Thesestakeholders are on different levels, and each level determines thepoint at which the stakeholders can be involved in the MSP. Differentnations have various practices when it comes to the involvement ofthese stakeholders. Most of the reasons lie behind cultural factors.The stakeholders can be organizations, communities or individuals.The primary concern is that every person directly affected by thechanges the MSP will bring should be included as a stakeholder. Themain reason for their involvement is to give them a sense ofimportance and to ask for any assistance that might be required(Pomeroy &amp Douvere, 2008). The best way of ensuring everystakeholder is satisfied is through frequent communication andconsultation on several matters.

5.Definition and analysis of current situations

Mostof the data collected from the ocean can be extensive andtime-consuming to sift through all of it. It is crucial only toobtain the current data that is highly applicable to the MSP. Themost useful form of data involves the distribution and location ofthe marine biodiversity, recognition of all the human activities thatoccur within the ocean and their placements and establishing thegeographical conditions of the ocean area that includes currents,water temperature, and sedimentation patterns. These data can beobtained from the scientific literature, the database of recentresearch done by governmental agencies, common knowledge from thelocals and actual field analysis (Day, 2015). The results of the datacollected will be used to map the current state of all theinteractions that occur within the ocean and help in the planning offuture space allocation.

6.Description and evaluation of future situations

Theprevious stage establishes the current state of affairs. This stagetries to find out the level that the MSP team needs to attain. Sincethe MSP focuses on future outcomes, this part of the implementationworks on the search for possible future results of different stepstaken and not just to maintain the status quo. The first step is toproject the future effects if the current state is left as it is.This part establishes whether the current trend has severe futureeffects or whether it works well with the ecosystem. The next step isto estimate the need for space if the current tendencies continue.This part incorporates the emerging technology as well. The thirdstep is to find alternative plans based on the effects that thecurrent tendencies might have on the ecosystem as well as humanactivities. The final step is to select the best option that suitsall the needs both aquatic and human (Day, 2015).

7.Preparation and approval of the spatial management plan

Thispart is essentially a statement policy. It determines the necessarymanagement aspects and measures that have to be followed for all theinitial plans to be implemented. Every segment of this stage shouldinvolve the proper identification of the location of aquatic lifewith the proper timing of all human activities. This stage creates areference for future modifications of the MSP and other alternativesthat might come to light in the future.

8.Implementation and enforcement

Thepractical application determines the entire fate of the MSP program.This stage of the MSP involves the actual application of the planthat was developed in the previous stages. Every aspect appliedshould be as exact as the original plan. The enforcement part isimplemented by formerly established agencies that ensure that all theprotocols implemented are followed to the later. Necessarypunishments and fines are given to those that do not comply.

9.Monitoring and performance evaluation

Thisbit establishes whether the strategies that were implemented areachieving the desired goals. The aspects that are considered at thislevel involve valuation of present situation of the ecosystem andchecking whether the management tactics have brought any positiveimpacts. This part of the MSP is usually carried out throughout thelifetime of the MSP even after subsequent improvements.

10.Adaptation of the marine spatial management process

Thissection is the final incorporation of the marine spatial managementprocess once the benefits of it are conclusive. This part has howevernever been done since the MSP is a rather new field when it comes tomarine management.

TerrestrialSpatial Planning

TerrestrialSpatial Planning involves the control of the effects that result fromhuman activities on land to protect the terrestrial life whilegenerating the necessary environmental, economic and social benefitsfrom the earth. This aspect of spatial planning is much older thanMSP that is a rather new strategy. The two forms of resourcemanagement differ considerably especially from where they areperformed. MSP is done in the oceans and seas while TSP is done ondry land. The policies developed for TSP have been done for manyyears while MSP is still in its development stage (Smith et al.,2011).

WhatMSP can learn from TSP

TerrestrialSpatial Planning has evolved over the years by the changing politicalclimates and times. This ability has made it remain relevant all thistime. MSP should, therefore, learn to be versatile and adapt tochanging times as fast as possible to survive. TSP also has differentgoverning bodies that all work towards achieving a common goal (Begeret al., 2010). The various agencies that manage it ensure that in notime will the entire process fail if the organization fails. MSPshould use this strategy to make sure that it is safeguarded from anycatastrophe that might affect its agencies especially the fundingsources.

Integrationof MSP and TSP

Thetwo systems are interdependent and can, therefore, be integrated. Thebasis of integration can involve the policies involved that arealmost similar, or the two strategies can work based on the granderscale of environmental conservation. The need for this integration isthat most of the pollutants that make their way into the seas andoceans begin from the land. With the incorporation of the twosystems, proper management can be done to curb the flow of thesepollutants into the sea (Smith et al., 2011).

Benefitsof the integration

Thereare several benefits that can result from the merger of the twoprograms. The main one is that the investors and other stakeholderswill have the full guarantee of returns. This guarantee is due toboth the land and seas have numerous resources that can be accessedfor economic benefits. The other benefit is that it will create awider view of what is important. The important bit is environmentalpreservation followed by planned resource accessibility that willhardly affect the ecosystem. Another advantage is that there will bemore involvement from the stakeholders. Such participation willcreate an unlimited source of funds that will continue to sustainprospects of these two spatial plans (Stead &amp Meijers, 2009).

Nonetheless,some limitations can work against this integration. The first is thatthe two systems use different agencies and authorities. To convincethese authorities to pool their resources and work together, a lot ofwork will have to be done. Also, the stakeholders involved are verydifferent, and this might create a lot of problems (Stead &ampMeijers, 2009). However, under the unifying mandate of theenvironmental protection programs, the two systems can work well overtime.


MSPis a future management strategy that operates in the interests ofboth the aquatic life and the human needs. The basic focus of thisstrategy is to ensure adequate sustenance of the ecosystem and toprotect it from adverse human activities. The benefits that the MSPprovide are numerous and make it a proper means of safeguarding ouroceans. The ten steps that involve this strategy are thorough and allaspects are studied in depth. These facts show that the MSP is thenew way that guarantees complete protection of the biodiversity whilegranting human beings numerous economic and social benefits. With itsintegration with the Terrestrial Spatial Plan, the work towardsenvironmental management will become much easier. The benefitsoutlined from this merge are many as described above. The mostappropriate step will, therefore, be the combination of these twoaspects.


Agardy,T., Di Sciara, G.N. and Christie, P., 2011. Mind the gap: addressingthe shortcomings of marine protected areas through large scaleMSP.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp35(2),pp.226-232.

Beger,M., Grantham, H.S., Pressey, R.L., Wilson, K.A., Peterson, E.L.,Dorfman, D., Mumby, P.J., Lourival, R., Brumbaugh, D.R. andPossingham, H.P., 2010. Conservation planning for connectivity acrossmarine, freshwater, and terrestrial realms.&nbspBiologicalConservation,&nbsp143(3),pp.565-575.

Carr,M.H., Neigel, J.E., Estes, J.A., Andelman, S., Warner, R.R. andLargier, J.L., 2003. Comparing marine and terrestrial ecosystems:implications for the design of coastal marine reserves.&nbspEcologicalApplications,&nbsp13(sp1),pp.90-107.

Crowder,L. and Norse, E., 2008. Essential ecological insights for marineecosystem-based management and MSP.&nbspMarinepolicy,32(5),pp.772-778.

Day,J.C., 2015. MSP.&nbspTransboundaryMSP and International Law,p.103.

Day,V., Paxinos, R., Emmett, J., Wright, A. and Goecker, M., 2008. TheMarine Planning Framework for South Australia: A new ecosystem-basedzoning policy for marine management.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp32(4),pp.535-543.

Douvere,F. and Ehler, C.N., 2009. New perspectives on sea use management:initial findings from European experience with MSP.&nbspJournalof environmental management,&nbsp90(1),pp.77-88.

Douvere,F., 2008. The importance of MSP in advancing ecosystem-based sea usemanagement.&nbspMarinepolicy,&nbsp32(5),pp.762-771.

Douvere,F., Maes, F., Vanhulle, A. and Schrijvers, J., 2007. The role of MSPin sea use management: the Belgian case.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp31(2),pp.182-191.

Ehler,C., 2008. Conclusions: benefits, lessons learned, and futurechallenges of MSP.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp32(5),pp.840-843.

Ehler,C., Douvere, F. and Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission,2009.&nbspMSP:a step-by-step approach toward ecosystem-based-management.UNESCO.

Flannery,W. and Cinnéide, M.Ó., 2012. A roadmap for MSP: A criticalexamination of the European Commission`s guiding principles based ontheir application in the Clyde MSP Pilot Project.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp36(1),pp.265-271.

Foley,M.M., Halpern, B.S., Micheli, F., Armsby, M.H., Caldwell, M.R.,Crain, C.M., Prahler, E., Rohr, N., Sivas, D., Beck, M.W. and Carr,M.H., 2010. Guiding ecological principles for MSP.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp34(5),pp.955-966.

Foley,M.M., Halpern, B.S., Micheli, F., Armsby, M.H., Caldwell, M.R.,Crain, C.M., Prahler, E., Rohr, N., Sivas, D., Beck, M.W. and Carr,M.H., 2010. Guiding ecological principles for MSP.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp34(5),pp.955-966.

Gilliland,P.M. and Laffoley, D., 2008. Key elements and steps in the process ofdeveloping ecosystem-based MSP.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp32(5),pp.787-796.

GreatBarrier Reef Marine Park Authority, 1975. The Great Barrier ReefMarine Park Act. Australia.

Halpern,B.S., Diamond, J., Gaines, S., Gelcich, S., Gleason, M., Jennings,S., Lester, S., Mace, A., McCook, L., McLeod, K. and Napoli, N.,2012. Near-term priorities for the science, policy and practice ofCoastal and MSP (CMSP).&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp36(1),pp.198-205.

Halpern,B.S., Walbridge, S., Selkoe, K.A., Kappel, C.V., Micheli, F.,D`Agrosa, C., Bruno, J.F., Casey, K.S., Ebert, C., Fox, H.E. andFujita, R., 2008. A global map of human impact on marineecosystems.&nbspScience,319(5865),pp.948-952.

Jay,S., 2010. Planners to the rescue: Spatial planning facilitating thedevelopment of offshore wind energy.&nbspMarinepollution bulletin,&nbsp60(4),pp.493-499.

Kidd,S. and Ellis, G., 2012. From the land to sea and back again? Usingterrestrial planning to understand the process of MSP.Journalof Environmental Policy &amp Planning,&nbsp14(1),pp.49-66.

Maes,F., 2008. The international legal framework for MSP.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp32(5),pp.797-810.

Nel,J.L., Reyers, B., Roux, D.J. and Cowling, R.M., 2009. Expandingprotected areas beyond their terrestrial comfort zone: identifyingspatial options for river conservation.&nbspBiologicalConservation,&nbsp142(8),pp.1605-1616.

Pomeroy,R. and Douvere, F., 2008. The engagement of stakeholders in the MSPprocess.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp32(5),pp.816-822.

Pomeroy,R. and Douvere, F., 2008. The engagement of stakeholders in the MSPprocess.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp32(5),pp.816-822.

Punt,M.J., Groeneveld, R.A., Van Ierland, E.C. and Stel, J.H., 2009.Spatial planning of offshore wind farms: A windfall to marineenvironmental protection?.&nbspEcologicalEconomics,&nbsp69(1),pp.93-103.

Rees,S.E., Rodwell, L.D., Attrill, M.J., Austen, M.C. and Mangi, S.C.,2010. The value of marine biodiversity to the leisure and recreationindustry and its application to MSP.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp34(5),pp.868-875.

Smith,H.D., Maes, F., Stojanovic, T.A. and Ballinger, R.C., 2011. Theintegration of land and MSP.&nbspJournalof Coastal Conservation,&nbsp15(2),pp.291-303.

Stead,D. and Meijers, E., 2009. Spatial planning and policy integration:Concepts, facilitators and inhibitors.&nbspPlanningTheory &amp Practice,&nbsp10(3),pp.317-332.

Stelzenmüller,V., Lee, J., South, A., Foden, J. and Rogers, S.I., 2013. Practicaltools to support MSP: a review and some prototype tools.&nbspMarinePolicy,&nbsp38,pp.214-227.

Wilson,E. and Piper, J., 2010.&nbspSpatialplanning and climate change.Routledge.

Page 6 of 6