Marine Spatial Planning to address habitat loss, coastal infrastructure development, urbanization, and the loss of coastal and ocean values

Marine spatial planning (MSP) and the subsequent zoning and regulations on use that flow from it are emerging in various forms around the world. However, many countries are missing opportunities to use MSP to its full potential to promote sustainable use of ocean space and resources, while at the same time meeting social and conservation objectives. In the rush to promote ‘blue growth’, the focus in some places is on accommodating as many uses within the ocean space as possible, and in such scenarios MSP is used primarily to reduce conflict between big, industrial users. Effective MSP can do much more: it can synch to coastal planning to create truly effective ecosystem-based management, in which degradation of important ecosystems is prevented by focusing management on drivers of degradation (even if those drivers do not trace back to ocean use but rather have their base in land and freshwater use). Thus the spatially-oriented regulations that emerge from MSP can address the loss and degradation of habitats that occurs through urbanization and coastal infrastructure development, to ensure that nature’s benefits from coastal and ocean ecosystems continue to flow. This sort of holistic planning also creates opportunities for transboundary collaboration to effectively manage shared resources, at a variety of scales. MSP and related ocean zoning can ensure that ecologically important areas are fully represented in a mosaic of use and protection. Finally, the planning process can ensure that the needs of local communities, and the safeguarding of values that extend beyond those captured by large maritime industries, are considered in decisions on how to allocate space and resources in a equitable way, while promoting economic growth.

ISCED Categories

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