The European Parliament has endorsed a Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP), a piece of legislation that should assist Member States to develop plans to sustainably and efficiently coordinate marine resources. The Directive will mitigate potential conflicts between the numerous activities in coastal and maritime areas that compete for the same space and resources. Read more...
There is rapidly increasing demand for marine space and resources from current activities including fishing grounds; aquaculture farms; maritime infrastructure (such as cables and pipelines); shipping lanes; and oil, gas and wind installations. New uses are also envisaged, which will place further demands on available resources. Improved and coherent planning of maritime activities is undoubtedly needed.
To ensure potential conflicts are avoided, the MSP Directive sets minimum requirements for national maritime spatial plans to deliver. These plans will identify existing human activities, including land-sea interactions, and the most effective way of managing them. As many of the activities transcend national borders, the Directive should help improve co-operation between Member States and across regional seas.
The key advantage of MSP, a cornerstone of the European Union’s Integrated Maritime Policy and the Commission’s Blue Growth Strategy, is an improved understanding of the distribution of marine resources, which provides greater certainty to investors regarding potential economic development. It also ensures operators know what, where and for how long an activity can take place, while reducing the existing over regulation and administrative complexity.
Once finally adopted by ministers, Member States will have to integrate the Directive into their national legislation by 2016 and must nominate a Competent Authority to implement their MSP. MSPs must be completed by 2021 – content and strategies can align to Member States’ specific economic, social and environmental priorities, but must conform to the minimum requirements of the Directive.
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