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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Towards Sustainable Implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning: Exploring the Potential of a Stronger Role for the European Regional Sea Conventions

Comparative Politics
Environmental Policy
Lisa Simone de Grunt
The Open University
Helena Calado
FCT-University of the Azores
Kiat Ng
Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto
Lisa Simone de Grunt
The Open University

National and sectoral policies are no longer adequate to manage the complexity of the marine environment and to sustain the paradigm of environmental protection and the simultaneous push for growth of the maritime economy. Maritime spatial planning (MSP) proposes a holistic approach to marine management through advocating the application of ecosystem-based management and international coordination. MSP is defined as ‘a public process of analysing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives’. The push towards actualising the coordination of transboundary maritime activities is gaining momentum and persistent effort has been invested in coordinating national strategies and activities at the European and regional level. European coastal Member States are obligated under the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive to develop maritime spatial plans for their national waters through coordination with neighbouring MS, potentially through involving the four existing European Regional Seas Conventions (RSCs). Many Member States are increasingly looking for guidance on the development and coordination of their plans. The role of the European RSCs in furthering the implementation of MSP differs substantially, with notable exceptions being the HELCOM-VASAB Working Group on MSP and the Barcelona Convention Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management. This paper explores the differences in RSCs design and effectiveness in relation to their potential involvement in the implementation of MSP in Europe. Adaptations to the structure and work programmes of the RSCs could strengthen their role in furthering the sustainable regional coordination of maritime activities across Europe.
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