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Oceans and fisheries

Maritime spatial planning

Maritime spatial planning (MSP) is the tool to manage the use of our seas and oceans coherently and to ensure that human activities take place in an efficient, safe and sustainable way.

Many activities take place in Europe’s seas. At any given time, fishing, aquaculture, shipping, renewable energy, nature conservation and other uses compete for maritime space. That is why the EU has legislation on maritime spatial planning.

Objectives

  • reducing conflicts and creating synergies between different activities
  • encouraging investment through predictability, transparency and legal certainty
  • increasing cross-border cooperation between EU countries to develop renewable energy, allocate shipping lanes, lay pipelines and submarine cables etc
  • protecting the environment by assigning protected areas, calculating impacts on ecosystems and identifying opportunities for multiple uses of space

Actions

Technical support

Since 2016, the European MSP Platform, financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund, provides administrative and technical support to EU countries in implementing the MSP legislation. The project manages a website featuring information on existing MSP practices, processes and projects, carries out technical studies, and provides a question and answer service.

Financial support

EU-funded MSP cross-border projects and conferences facilitate cooperation between EU countries in managing maritime space and support the implementation of the MSP legislation. The projects website on the European MSP Platform provides full details on the activities that have taken place since 2010.

MSP worldwide

It is important that ocean space is managed in a sustainable manner all over the world. That is why the EU cooperates with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO to accelerate MSP processes worldwide through the MSPGlobal project. We are currently developing new international guidelines on transboundary MSP. EU funding also supports regional MSP projects in the West Mediterranean and in the South-East Pacific.

Timeline

Where are we now?

  1. 2014
    Adoption of the maritime spatial planning directive
  2. 2021
    All coastal EU countries establish maritime spatial plans
  3. At least every ten years
    EU countries review their maritime spatial plans.

Media