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Maritime Spatial Planning


Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)


Endorsed by European Parliament in April 2014

Overall aim

Improve coordination of activities that take place at sea to ensure that they are as efficient and sustainable as possible.


Many activities compete for the same space and resources in coastal and maritime areas, such as fishing, aquaculture, marine protected areas, cables, pipelines, shipping lanes and wind installations. There are currently inconsistencies between Member States in the way that these activities are coordinated which leads to competition for space and inefficient use of marine resources.

Given that demand is increasing for maritime space with new activities, there is a pressing need to coordinate planning of maritime activities across national boundaries. The new MSP Directive will require Member States to draw up maritime spatial plans which identify all existing human activities and the most effective way of managing them, and will require Member States to establish appropriate cross-border cooperation.

It is hoped that the MSP Directive will bring environmental benefits through improving management and reducing the cumulative impact of maritime activities, which will help Member States to achieve good environmental status of their waters by 2020 under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The increased cooperation on planning across national boundaries which the MSP Directive brings will help Member States to establish a coherent and representative network of Marine Protected Areas under the MSFD. The MSP Directive also covers coastal waters so will promote more sustainable management of coastal activities by taking into account the joined-up nature of coastal and marine issues.

More information on the MSP Directive