EU approves Maritime Spatial Planning legislation
The European Parliament approved a Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning which should help Member States develop plans to better coordinate the various activities that take place at sea, ensuring they are as efficient and sustainable as possible.
In coastal and maritime areas, many activities compete for the same space and resources: fishing grounds, aquaculture farms, marine protected areas exist alongside maritime infrastructures such as cables, pipelines, shipping lanes and oil, gas and wind installations. The new Directive will help avoid potential conflicts between such diverse uses and create a stable environment attractive to investors, thereby contributing to sustainable growth.
With rapidly increasing demand for maritime space for new activities, from renewable energy to aquaculture installations, better and coherent planning of maritime activities at sea is indeed needed. The Directive sets minimum requirements for the drawing up of national maritime spatial plans. These plans will identify all existing human activities, taking into account land-sea interactions, and the most effective way of managing them. As many of the activities run across national borders, the Directive will help Member States co-operate better.
Once finally adopted by ministers, Member States must transpose the Directive into their national legislation by 2016 and nominate the Competent Authority in charge of the implementation of MSP. Member States must also draw up their national maritime spatial plans by 2021. They are free to tailor the content of the plans and strategies to their specific economic, social and environmental priorities, and their national sectorial policy objectives and legal traditions, but must respect the minimum requirements of the Directive.