Marine Spatial Planning

What is Marine Spatial Planning?
According to the European Union’s Directorate for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG Mare) marine or maritime spatial planning (MSP) is the process for planning where and when human activities take place at sea. This is needed due to increased competition for space – from shipping, renewable energy, fishing, leisure and other activities. These activities need to be coordinated in the best possible way to reduce conflict and help meet environmental, economic and social objectives.

Within the Irish Sea, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Wales, Republic of Ireland and England all have responsibilities for preparing marine spatial plans. In some cases, new organisations to oversee the process of plan preparation and implementation have been set up by national governments, such as the Marine Management Organisation for England or Marine Scotland. As MSP is a relatively new concept, some nations have made more progress in preparing marine spatial plans than others.

In March 2013 the European Commission proposed a new Directive on maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management. Under this Directive European countries would still be free to plan for their own marine space but would be guided by a common set of principles and requirements. You can read more about the proposed Directive HERE (opens in new window).

The Irish Sea Maritime Forum does not have a formal role in marine spatial planning, but aims to provide stakeholders with information about the marine planning process and enable them to have a say in planning for the Irish Sea as a whole.

Please see the following links for information on Marine Spatial Planning in each Irish Sea jurisdiction:


Isle of Man

Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland*



*NOTE: The Republic of Ireland does not currently have a system of marine spatial planning, however development on the coast is governed by the Foreshore Act (Dept. of Environment, Community and Local Government/Roinne Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil)