Marine Spatial Planning

Existing and proposed MPAs in the North East Atlantic (Source: MPAAtlas.org October 2019)

Existing and proposed MPAs in the North East Atlantic (Source: MPAAtlas.org October 2019)

There are a multitude of human activities occurring in our marine waters and they are continually expanding and diversifying. Competition for space and increased pressure on the environment are therefore growing concerns. Marine spatial planning is “a process that brings together multiple users of the ocean to make informed and coordinated decisions about how to use marine resources sustainably”. The benefits include reducing conflict, encouraging investment, improving cross-border cooperation, and most importantly, protecting the environment. Under the EU’s Marine Spatial Planning Directive, Ireland must implement its first MSP by 2021.

Ireland’s draft “National Marine Planning Framework” (i.e. our first MSP) was launched for public consultation in November 2019. This is a comprehensive new approach to marine planning, which will apply to a broad range of marine activities including aquaculture, offshore renewable energy, sea fisheries, and tourism. The aim is to move us from the developer-led approach of old, to a strategic, plan-led management of marine activities with the ecosystem as an overarching consideration. The draft framework can be viewed here.

SWAN’s submission to the draft National Marine Planning Framework can be viewed here.