Marine Spatial Planning / Ocean Planning

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is developing rapidly in many areas, e.g. the EU, US and Australia. Engaging in effective decision-making through a MSP process is paramount for the Ocean Business Community. The WOC is working to ensure that marine or ocean planning processes include both the systematic and comprehensive involvement of a diverse range of ocean industries as well as the use of credible science and risk assessment.


Understanding MSP

Marine spatial planning (known as MSP, but also called Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning, Maritime Spatial Planning, Marine Planning or Ocean Planning) is the process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives.

Whether measured by GDP, wages, or jobs, economic analyses show that ocean businesses are key ocean users and contributors to coastal and ocean economies around the globe. With MSP developing in many areas, a knowledgeable and engaged Ocean Business Community is vital to ensuring the MSP process results in effective decision-making and more sustainable ocean and coastal economies.

Whilst WOC does not endorse the information found on the below sites, this list is intended to provide a broad spectrum of views and information on MSP.


WOC Impact on MSP

The WOC developed an MSP Ocean Platform to foster systematic and comprehensive involvement of an informed Ocean Business Community in ocean planning as well as the use of credible science and risk assessment in the marine spatial planning processes.

The WOC delivers information, analysis and dialogue to improve interaction between the Ocean Business Community and marine planning efforts. Through its MSP Ocean Platform, the WOC is working to:

1. Ensure WOC Members and other ocean industry representatives are well informed about MSP.

2. Effectively engage the Ocean Business Community in the MSP process in key countries and regions.

3. Address the MSP needs and interests of responsible ocean businesses and optimize the business benefits of MSP.

In Europe, the WOC has been tracking the MSP process at the EU Maritime Policy level and engaging with the relevant components. The MSP focus is now moving to the regional/sea basin level, e.g. Baltic, North Sea. This is creating the need and opportunity for the Ocean Business Community to get organized at the regional scale. In regions where there is sufficient need and interest from stakeholders, the WOC organizes and sponsors regional ocean business MSP workshops. For example, in February 2016 the WOC organized a webinar in collaboration with the Scottish Association for Marine Science on MSP challenges and perspectives in the North Sea. A regional ocean business council may emerge from this process as an ongoing means for the private sector to provide systemic, ongoing interaction with each other on marine planning and the means to engage collectively in the overall MSP process.

In the US, the need for the ocean industries to better understand and engage in MSP has become urgent due to the work of the US National Policy and the National Ocean Council (NOC). Among other things, the NOC has called for the development and implementation of MSP through a series of nine regional (sub-national) planning bodies. The US government convened a major inter-agency conference in mid-2011 to advance its MSP plans. The WOC convened the first National Ocean Business Forum on MSP in July 2011 to ensure that ocean industries were fully informed of the government’s plan and understood its implications as well as to develop a constructive and coordinated engagement of the Ocean Business Community in the process. The WOC issued a report on Marine Spatial Planning at this National Business Forum.

As the US MSP process rolls out at a regional (sub-national) level, WOC has launched a MSP Initiative to reach out to the range of ocean sectors active in each region to facilitate understanding and involvement in the newly mandated ocean planning process.

This MSP Initiative in the US is working toward:

a) A coordinated, proactive involvement of a well-informed multi-industry leadership group in the national ocean policy planning process.

b) A comprehensive understanding of the industry stakeholders in the region by each of the 9 regions.

c) Exploring and facilitating the establishment of a regional ocean business council in three regions.

The WOC has issued a number of key documents on MSP such as the policy brief on Ocean Governance: Marine Planning in 2014 setting out the business opportunities of the MSP process for the Ocean Business Community and more recently in 2016 the WOC published a major report summarising industries perspectives on MSP and analyzing the value and benefits of MSP to the Ocean Business Community the Ocean Industries and Marine Planning brief.

For more documents produced visit the Resources page.


Related Events

The WOC also sponsored the following events on Marine Spatial Planning:

2016 – Webinar: Towards a Multi Sector Understanding of Challenges and Opportunities in MSP in the North Sea
2015 – Sustainable Ocean Summit – MSP Session, Singapore
2014 – National Business Forum on Ocean Policy– MSP Track/Sessions, New York, NY, USA
2013 – Sustainable Ocean Summit– MSP Session, Washington DC, USA
2011 – National Business Forum on Marine Spatial Planning, Washington DC, USA
2010 – Sustainable Ocean Summit– MSP Seminar, Belfast, Northern Ireland