• Many Disciplines Join Together for Better Maritime Spatial Planning (Helsinki Commission)

    From: Helsinki Commission

    The first joint workshop of its kind on multi-disciplinary case studies of Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) was arranged in Lisbon, Portugal 2-4 November 2011. The workshop was realized by the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), the Visions and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (VASAB), the Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment for the North East Atlantic (OSPAR), and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The event gave a unique opportunity for the participants to share knowledge and exchange experiences on MSP and, by playing a simulation-game, to stress-test the process of making maritime spatial plans.

    Maritime Spatial Planning is a tool of great global interest to find synergies and solve conflicts among on-going and future human activities in the sea areas as well as to protect the marine environment. The first joint multi-disciplinary workshop stressed the need for closer cooperation between HELCOM-VASAB, OSPAR, and ICES with the aim to learn from and support each other in the MSP work related to policy-making, planning and scientific knowledge. The experiences and results from the workshop will be made into a joint workshop report.

    The workshop was a follow up on the ICES coastal and marine spatial planning workshop in November 2010 and it was attended by around 80 participants from different countries. During the first day, OSPAR, ICES and the host country Portugal, among others, presented their work and progress with MSP issues. The work of the Joint HELCOM-VASAB Working Group on Maritime Spatial Planning was presented by Anita Mäkinen, co-chair of the Working Group. The group was launched in October 2010 to ensure cooperation among the Baltic Sea Region countries for coherent MSP processes in the Baltic Sea. The mandate and work plan for the Working Group have been adopted and three meetings have already been held. Further, the HELCOM-VASAB broad-scale MSP principles have been adopted by HELCOM and VASAB and are being tested within the EU funded Plan Bothnia project. Future focus of the working group will be on the legal requirements for MSP, the practical application of the ecosystem approach in MSP, linkages between Integrated Coastal Zone Management and MSP as well as transboundary cooperation.

    Two Baltic Sea MSP projects, BaltSeaPlan and Plan Bothnia were also presented during the workshop. The BaltSeaPlan project has developed a spatial Vision 2030 for dealing with Baltic Sea space in a pro-active, integrated, transnational and co-operative way. Plan Bothnia project organized a group discussion session on the experiences so far to test MSP in the Bothnian Sea area as a transboundary case between Sweden and Finland.

    During other group discussion sessions the participants discussed topics related to strategic environmental assessments, setting of ecological values, assessment of total human impact and transboundary planning using Southern North Sea as an example area.

    During the second day of the workshop the participants were able to take part in a simulation game, the “MSP Challenge 2011”. A simulation game differs from an entertainment game by having a problem context (reference system) and objectives that have real world purpose and meaning. The sea area to be planned in the game was fictitious but resembled the Kattegat/Skagerrak area. This “Sea of Colors” was surrounded by four countries and the workshop participants got to play roles of planners, stakeholders and policy analysts/scientists in the countries. At the end of the day the countries presented their adopted maritime spatial plans.

    The participants agreed that the game was a great hands-on experience on MSP. They realized the importance of clear leadership, a structured and transparent process and the involvement of both science and all stakeholders alike. The simulation game was funded and developed by the Dutch Government and Delft University of Technology.

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