MSP for Blue Growth

Main Issues: 

Both traditional as well as emerging maritime sectors are continuously driven by innovation and show substantial potential to create new jobs and added value. Blue Growth is the long term strategy to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors as a whole. Seas and oceans are drivers for the European economy and have great potential for innovation and growth. It is the maritime contribution to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

MSP can facilitate the development of these Blue Growth sectors in a context of increasing competition for space and limited ecosystem resources. MSPs are also seen as a tool to increase the stability, transparency and predictability of the investment climate where they are implemented.

The MSP process as such is an important driver to induce a more systematic approach towards generating and using marine knowledge as well as facilitating stakeholder communication and cross-sector integration by not only reducing conflicts but also creating synergies.

The extending of spatial planning (as used on land, also referred to as physical planning) to the marine domain – this is, in short, the meaning of what has been translated as maritime spatial planning - represents `de facto` a key instrument for Blue Growth and can contribute to the aim of giving a boost to economic growth on the basis of a new maritime paradigm founded in innovation, competitiveness and knowledge.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What future sectoral uses are considered important for MSP?

This information is not systematically shared yet, and depends from Member State to Member State and from sea-basin to sea-basin. This future potential is determined by various factors which are both related to external drivers (such as climate change adaptation, ageing population, technology changes) as well as the internal response capacity and the competitive position of Europe’s industry overall. For example Europe’s position in oil and gas is very strong as a result of the solid global position of European companies in this field.

Typically important uses are maritime transportation and ports, offshore oil and gas, tourism and fisheries. Offshore wind is an increasingly important use as well, with important spatial consequences – thus requiring careful long-term planning. Other promising use, which might have relevant spatial implications are aquaculture and seabed mining.

The original Blue Growth Study contains important information – notably on synergies and tensions, as fully described under chapter 5 of the study report. Important maritime economic activities, which already have a critical mass (e.g. short-sea shipping, cruising, offshore drilling, offshore wind and coastal tourism), can have substantial knock-on effects for future growth and development of other activities. For example, several economic activities make use of similar inputs (e.g. shipbuilding as input to cruise shipping, short-sea shipping, coastal protection, offshore wind, offshore oil and gas, and marine mineral mining) or share the same infrastructure, notably ports. 

An example of a sectoral plan for offshore wind having medium-long term implication for MPS is the Blue Seas – Green Energy: A Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Territorial Waters. This is the strategic planning document for the development of offshore wind energy in Scottish Territorial Waters. It contains proposals for offshore wind energy development up to 2020 and beyond. The Plan will be integrated into and inform the emerging marine planning framework in Scotland.

Do sea-basin wide assessments of future uses exist?

Such assessments are increasingly taking place as part of sea-basin specific maritime spatial planning. The ‘Study on Blue Maritime Policy and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region’ aims to identify the potential for Blue Growth in the Baltic Member States at a sea-basin level and to provide recommendations for its development in the context of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) and the next programming period.

Additionally some other examples are provided below.

The main outcome of the MEDTRENDS project illustrates and maps the main scenarios of maritime economic activities for the EU Mediterranean countries in the next 20 years. It shows an in-depth analysis of the current situation and future trends in 10 of the main maritime economic sectors, their drivers and environmental impacts. The analysis is done in particular in the context of the 10% marine protected areas target set for the Mediterranean and the GES objectives of MSFD.

Results are available through a dedicated web-portal for four sectors: offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction, maritime transportation and port, professional fisheries and tourism. Results for other sectors (recreational fisheries, marine aquaculture, marine renewable energy, marine mining, coastal development, land-based pollutions sources) are included in MEDTRENDS reports. The analysis was implemented at the Mediterranean regional or sub-regional (Adriatic Sea) scales and more specifically at the level of the 8 EU Mediterranean countries (Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Spain).

Part of the work of the SUBMARINER Network is to investigate the Baltic Sea Region Outlook in 2030, and in particular whether marine resources are used more widely, including the effects on the natural capital, the regional energy and biomass portfolio and human well-being in the region. In this context, smart combinations or ‘synergies’ allow for the integrated delivery of multiple products (e.g. biogas, fertilisers, seafood, high-value products) and services (e.g. nutrient harvesting, carbon sequestration, clean beaches) are delivered from the same space.

How to make trade-offs between various future space uses?

Decisions about the use of maritime space are – as on land- are often political.

The term trade-off involves losing one quality or aspect of something in return for gaining another quality or aspect. It is now more generally used for situations where a choice needs to be made between two or more things that cannot be had at the same time. Trade-off covers a wider array of phenomena, such as conflicting land and sea-uses, a negative correlation between spatial occurrences, incompatibilities and excludability.

In parallel to this, tensions can exist between different maritime economic activities directly, but also indirectly, for example if one activity puts pressure on the marine environment – thus compromising the potential of another activity strongly relying on marine environment quality. Most tensions are spatial in their nature. Hence a strong link exists with maritime spatial planning to address these tensions. An optimal strategy aims to avoid tensions and to optimise synergies.

There are various ways of comparing the weight and importance of such future space uses, such as multi-criteria analysis or cost-benefit analysis. For example, the BaltSeaPlan has produced a practice on the Cost-Benefit Analysis for Balancing sea use interests within the Latvian MSP process. Section 4 of this FAQ section provides further information on how the costs and benefits of maritime uses can be analysed through cross-sector integration, while also providing a list of useful tools and concrete examples of projects.