Marine spatial planning (MSP) is advocated as a means of managing human uses of the sea in a manner that is consistent with the maintenance of the ecological goods and services of the marine environment. The adoption of a system of MSP is seen as urgent in the face of ever-increasing demands on marine resources. This is particularly so in Ireland with its extensive seas, belatedly being recognised as a significant development resource. MSP is promoted by the European Commission (EC) in a recent Green Paper to which Member States of the Union, including Ireland, generally have responded positively. Arising from this consultative process, the EC has published the ‘Blue Book’ that commits support for MSP. It has also issued guidelines for an integrated approach to maritime policy. The recently adopted EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive strengthens the case for implementing MSP as it requires each Member State to develop a strategy for its marine resources. There is evidence that a diverse range of stakeholders at national and local levels in Ireland are positively disposed toward MSP but no practical manifestation of the concept is in place, though some preparatory work is underway to facilitate its likely implementation into the future.
integrated maritime governance, Ireland, marine resources, marine spatial planning
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