On 14 June 2013, the European Commission organised a workshop on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and energy (oil and gas, offshore wind energy and ocean renewable energy sectors) in Dublin. This event was the first in a series of stakeholder workshops assessing the benefits and challenges of MSP for specific maritime sectors and activities. The workshops will aim to draw conclusions on the specific needs and best practices on cross-sector cooperation. Discussions and conclusions will feed the work of the Commission to support the deployment of MSP in Europe.
The workshop was chaired by the Irish Marine Institute and gathered representatives of the industry, regions, environmental NGOs and national authorities dealing, or interacting, with energy and spatial planning. The discussions focused on the coexistence and synergies between economic activities at sea in a context of increasing use of marine space for the purpose of energy production.
During the presentations and debates, strong support for MSP was expressed by the energy sectors. The Oil and Gas industry stressed the benefits of MSP for the multiple-use of marine space and to provide a stable framework for long-term investments. The offshore wind and renewables sectors stressed the crucial importance of MSP for the development of their industry and especially for the development of cross-border grids.
The event brought up substantial discussions between sectors on how to manage their spatial claims. Fisheries representatives asked that MSP ensures that their industry is not pushed to one side. They see a real added-value in having dedicated agencies to streamline planning and licensing. The shipping industry highlighted the importance of UNCLOS as the basis for planning and stressed the value of MSP for safety of navigation as competition for maritime space increases. Environmental NGOs supported the benefits of MSP, especially in establishing coherent networks of Marine Protected Areas. They warned however that MSP should not be an instrument to "share the cake" between sectors but to integrate all concerns, including the requirements of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Experts also discussed data needs for planning. Industries are not necessarily reluctant to share the data they collect "in exchange" of licenses if they are clear benefits and trade-off for all involved. It is also clear that there is a lack of suitable data for efficient cross-border planning.
The next workshop will take place in November 2013 in Vilnius and will be focused on fisheries and aquaculture. The following one will discuss shipping during the Greek Presidency. Please contact MARE-E1@ec.europa.eu if you wish to be informed about future workshops.