Brussels, 25 November 2008
Today, the Commission has adopted a roadmap on maritime spatial planning – a new tool to address the challenges emerging from the growth in competing uses of the sea. The roadmap will facilitate the development of spatial planning for both marine and coastal spaces, in order to realise the growth potential of EU maritime sectors in a sustainable way. Maritime spatial planning can also help coastal areas to prepare for climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, floods, altered marine ecosystems and investments in coastal protection.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg commented: "Maritime spatial planning is a key tool for a more rational use of sea areas and for the sustainable development of the maritime economy. It is the only way in which we can provide a predictable framework for economic investments in offshore areas and is a precondition for striking a balance between the vested interests of different maritime activities while preserving the marine environment".
The roadmap on maritime spatial planning is another important product of the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy.
The fast growth in maritime activities such as maritime transport, port development, aquaculture, offshore drilling and tourism, combined with emerging and potentially new uses of the sea such as offshore renewable energy, blue biotech and underwater technologies, is increasing the pressure on already limited marine space.
Maritime spatial planning is a fairly new process which an increasing number of Member States are now developing in order to manage their maritime activities. By developing a common approach, EU Member States can deal in a more effective way with maritime matters which often are interlinked and transcend national borders. Action at European level can provide significant added value in facing common challenges such as climate change, the global competitiveness of the EU's maritime economy, cross-border issues and the management of maritime activities in line with ecosystem requirements.
The development of a common approach to maritime spatial planning forms part of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the EU, which aims to coordinate all EU policies with a maritime dimension in order to safeguard environmental sustainability and quality of life in coastal regions while promoting the growth potential of maritime industries.
In 2009 the Commission will organise a number of workshops to discuss the key principles for maritime spatial planning set out in the roadmap, launch pilot projects aimed at developing cross-border cooperation aspects and produce a progress report. A study on the legal aspects of maritime spatial planning has been issued to accompany the Communication.