Marine Spatial Planning

Marine or maritime spatial planning (MSP) refers to a planning of activities as well as protection of environmental and cultural values occurring at sea and coastal area. The planning process is highly data intensive as data are needed to cover a large variety of phenomena relevant to both marine environment and the human activities at sea and its coasts. Therefore, spatial datasets in digital format are needed to conduct the planning effectively. However, even when plenty of data are available, the interoperability of datasets raises many challenges, especially in transnational planning processes.

Transnational planning raises many juridical challenges as countries differ in their legislation and planning systems. Similarly, there are differences in economic interests, which may cause conflicts between the sea uses. The challenge is to allocate human activities in a way that allows ecological, economic, and social objectives to be all achieved.

During the recent years, maritime spatial planning has become an important research topic worldwide and the University of Turku has been actively involved in this process in Finland. The university is participating in international MSP projects, research being especially active in the Department of Geography and Geology and the Centre for Maritime Studies. In addition, University of Turku (Department of Geography and Geology) and Åbo Akademi University (Department of Environmental and Marine Biology) offer joint education in marine and coastal spatial planning.