Marine spatial planning

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Marine Spatial Planning

Marine spatial planning is a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that usually have been specified through a political process. Characteristics of marine spatial planning include ecosystem-based, area-based, integrated, adaptive, strategic and participatory. Marine spatial planning is not an end in itself, but a practical way to create and establish a more rational use of marine space and the interactions among its uses, to balance demands for development with the need to protect the environment, and to deliver social and economic outcomes in an open and planned way.

Through the planning and mapping process of a marine ecosystem, planners can consider the cumulative effect of maritime industries on our seas, seek to make industries more sustainable and proactively minimize conflicts between industries seeking to utilize the same sea area.

Importance of marine spatial planning-

Marine spatial planning can be used to analyze and assess the need for ocean space by current and future human activities. It can be used to assess the cumulative impacts in space and time of current and future economic developments on ecological processes in ocean areas and their resources.

Marine spatial planning has the overall goal of providing a mechanism for a strategic and integrated plan-based approach for marine management that makes it possible to look at the wider picture and to manage (potential and existing) conflicting uses, the cumulative effects of human activities and marine protection.

Benefits of marine spatial planning-

Most evidence of the benefits of marine spatial planning is qualitative rather than quantitative. More quantitative (and measurable) evidence of benefits is likely to appear in the next few years as spatial planning schemes are further developed, and the consequences currently underway are more systematically documented. Potential benefits of marine spatial planning with regard to economic activity include

  • Facilitating sector growth: marine spatial planning can provide a framework that facilitates the sustainable development of different economic activities, therefore helping to enhance income and employment
  • Optimizing the use of the sea: marine spatial planning can help to ensure that maximum benefits are derived from the use of the sea by encouraging activities to take place where they bring most value and do not devalue other activities
  • Reducing costs: marine spatial planning can reduce costs of information, regulation, planning and decision-making.

Other benefits of marine spatial planning include-

  • Finding space for nature: Marine spatial planning is a practical tool to make marine conservation a reality. In many countries, specific nature conservation legislation that affects the marine area is currently made of regimes that are primarily terrestrial in focus but which have been extended to the marine realm.
  • Transparency in human and environmental impacts: The use of marine spatial planning allows for early identification of potential conflicts, and therefore a chance to resolve them, between industries and between development and important wildlife areas
  • Improved understanding: A marine spatial planning system allows a more strategic approach to management that can substantially improve our understanding and consideration of the cumulative and combined effects between different activities and the environment itself. This understanding allows planning pro-actively, rather than just reacting to applications, changes and situations.