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Marine Policy & Planning

Human uses of Ireland’s seas and coastal areas are expanding at a rate that challenges our ability to plan and manage them under the current sector by sector approach. Most maritime countries are experiencing similar pressures and there is international recognition that marine planning, akin to planning on land, is necessary to balance competing uses of our seas and manage our marine resources in a sustainable manner.

Uses of our Seas and Coasts

  • Aquaculture
  • Commerce and Transportation (e.g. cargo and cruise ships tankers and ferries)
  • Commercial Fishing
  • Environmental Conservation
  • Maritime Heritage and Archaeology
  • Mining (sand and gravel)
  • Oil and Gas Exploration and Development
  • Ports and Harbours
  • Recreational Fishing
  • Renewable Energy (wind, wave and tidal)
  • Recreation (e.g. beach visits, boating, swimming, surfing, nature and whale watching, diving etc.)
  • Scientific research and exploration
  • Tourism

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is strategic, forward-looking planning for regulating, managing and protecting the marine environment that addresses the multiple, cumulative and potentially conflicting uses of the sea. It is seen as a way of improving decision making, involving a wide range of stakeholders and delivering a more eco-system based approach to managing marine activities. In essence it is a planning tool that enables integrated, forward-looking and consistent decision-making on the use of the sea. It provides the context in which to make decisions about the use of resources, conservation, development and the management of activities in the marine environment.

MSP around the world

Marine spatial planning is gaining considerable importance all around the world. Various countries are now using marine spatial management to balance development and conservation interests in their seas and coastal areas. Some European examples are set out below: