The marine and coastal environment provides essential resources to a wide range of user groups: fishers, aquaculture farmers, recreational users, oil and gas industries, and, more recently, to the wind, tidal and wave energy industries. As populations grow and resources diminish, conflicts can increase between these different user groups, making marine spatial planning and resource allocation critical for sustainable management.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a process for analyzing and allocating both the spatial distribution of human activities in marine areas and their temporal distributions, in order to use the marine and coastal environment in an ecologically and economically sustainable manner.
Marine Spatial Planning, when designed and implemented effectively, can:
reduce conflicts between user groups and increase regulatory efficiency;
facilitate the development of emerging industries, such as wind and wave energy and aquaculture;
help maintain critical ecological processes and ensure the provision of essential ecosystem services that they support (such as fishing, marine tourism and recreation, and cultural uses of the ocean).
(Source: EBM Tools Network, 2010)