The EU Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP Directive) was adopted in 2014. It is the world’s largest process of maritime spatial planning, with 21 countries due to submit their maritime spatial plans to the European Commission by 2021. Although some Member States have undertaken maritime spatial planning for several years now, most are developing such plans for the first time.

Developing a maritime spatial plan requires stakeholder engagement and formal periods of public consultation. Accordingly, Seas At Risk has developed a guide to help NGOs to engage effectively in these participatory processes. It sets out:

  1. Some legislative facts on the MSP Directive and its links to the Marine Directive and marine protected areas.
  2. Some core principles for good practice.
  3. Aspects and issues of which NGOs should be mindful when engaging in maritime spatial planning.
  4. Testimony from NGOs engaged in this process in different European countries.
  5. A repository of useful links to guidance documents and good practice examples.

The main ambition of the guide is to embed good practices that can support healthy, productive and biologically diverse seas. Most importantly, it shares a vision of how maritime spatial planning should be developed within the environmental limits set by the Marine Directive and alongside the designation and management of Marine Protected Areas. These three policy instruments are united by their ecosystem-based approach to management and planning, as mandated by the Marine and MSP Directives.