mapCoastal managers face significant challenges in successfully balancing competing and conflicting demands for coastal resources, economic development, and conservation. Most coastal planning initiatives to allocate space occur on a single-sector basis without any planning that looks at the area as a whole. Single-sector planning is leading to fragmentation of both human use, and natural resources. As a result, the health of marine ecosystems is declining, and user conflicts are increasing at a time when established uses are expanding, and new uses are emerging.

Coastal and marine planning is a tool for managers to improve decision-making for the marine resources, users, and uses within their jurisdiction. As a common-pool resource, our coastal and ocean areas require a public and transparent process that allocates space and resources in an effective, efficient, and equitable manner.


Marine Planning Training Objectives


The main objective of this project is that coastal managers at local, state, national, and international sites, resulting in increased capacity and commitment to implement marine planning across the glob.


Current Baseline Conditions


Gulf-ChartIn the United States, marine planning has been identified as a priority by President Obama’s National Ocean Policy. Under this Policy, CMSP will be a flexible, regional, integrated, ecosystem-based approach to address multiple uses of the ocean, coasts, and the Great Lakes. However, there is little guidance on how to implement marine planning.

In response, Marine Planning training offers an in-depth curriculum, training coastal managers to implement marine planning within their regions. In 2013, this training was offered in three locations; the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Caribbean, and the Mid-Atlantic. In each location, more than 96% of participants evaluated the curriculum as “Excellent”, “Very Good”, or “Good”.


Benefits of Marine Planning Implementation


deep_sea_coralThere are multiple benefits in implementing marine planning, including:

  1. Strategic planning: Marine planning provides a strategic planning framework that helps to facilitate sectoral development by guiding investment decisions. Oil and gas have benefited from strategic planning approaches at a sectoral level. There is reason to believe that other sectors, such as ports and fisheries, would also benefit from strategic planning. An integrated and cross-sectoral approach to marine planning could provide significant further economic benefits by considering the various needs and opportunities of different users of marine areas and helping to resolve potential conflicts;
  2. Conflict resolution: The potential for conflicts between different marine sectors is increasing over time, particularly as developing sectors, such as aquaculture and renewable energy, grow in significance. Marine planning provides a means of avoiding and managing potential conflicts, and ensuring that the needs of different sectors are addressed in a coordinated way;
  3. Sustainable resource use: Marine planning should facilitate the sustainable exploitation of natural resources, such as fisheries and aggregates, and thereby secure the long-term future of the industries that depend on them;
  4. Provision of development of space: Marine planning helps to ensure that all marine activities, including developing sectors (such as renewable energy and aquaculture) as well as more established ones, are fairly allocated space to develop;
  5. Promoting appropriate uses: By considering the variety of uses appropriate to the area in question, the value of different activities, the potential conflicts of use, and the suitability of different areas for different uses, marine planning should help to promote a mix of uses that are compatible with each other and the environment, and help to optimize the use of the maritime area;
  6. Supporting the environmental economy: By improving the conservation and management of the marine environment, marine planning helps to promote activities that depend on environmental quality, such as recreation and fishing. This is particularly true in areas of high conservation value where activities such as diving and wildlife tourism are significant;
  7. Improving stakeholder involvement: Marine planning can provide a transparent and structured mechanism in which the interests of different sectors can be represented and reconciled;
  8. Information efficiency: By developing common approaches to the acquisition and dissemination of information, marine planning can help to improve information provision and reduce duplication of effort, therefore bringing cost efficiency; and
  9. Regulatory efficiency: By improving information exchange and providing a more certain environment in which regulatory decisions are made, marine planning can be expected to reduce regulatory and compliance costs.