Maritime spatial planning promotes sustainable development and growth

The sea and marine regions are used in many ways. The role of maritime spatial planning is to reconcile the needs of different uses and, in turn, to help ensure that the use of the sea is sustainable.

A maritime spatial plan is a general plan of which area would be well suited to engage in any form of maritime use, such as energy production, maritime transport, fisheries, and tourism or in which areas these activities are already concentrated. The needs of nature conservation and national defence are also considered.

Maritime spatial planning is based on a directive of the European Union, which requires EU member states to draft land use plans for their maritime areas.

 A drawing where activities like fishing, fish farming and agriculture, as well as a harbour, a wreck, nature and a wind farm are pictured.
Maritime spatial planning reconciles the different uses of the sea.

Finnish sea areas are divided into 3 +1 planning areas

In order to draw up maritime spatial plans, Finland's territorial waters and its economic zone are divided into three planning areas. The Åland Islands will also compile a maritime spatial plan for its region. The final plans cover the entire Finnish sea area and together they form the Finnish maritime spatial plan.

Planning areas:

  • The Gulf of Finland
  • The Archipelago Sea and Southern Bothnian Sea
  • The Northern Bothnian Sea, the Quark, and the Bay of Bothnia
  • The Åland Sea
 A map showing the planning areas: One area covers most of the western coast, another one the Archipelago Sea, the third one the Gulf of Finland and the fourth the Åland sea area.
A maritime spatial plan is prepared for each of the three planning areas in mainland Finland, as well as the one in Åland.

Two objectives: blue growth and a good marine environmental status

Maritime spatial planning has two objectives: blue growth and good status of the marine environment.

Here, blue growth refers to marine-based industries, such as offshore wind power generation, fish farming, and tourism. Their potential for growth is large, and there is a desire to make better use of these opportunities. This is also a long-term goal of the European Union. Maritime industries also employ many people.

A good environmental status is important for many reasons and this goal is being pursued throughout the European Union. A clean sea is also a productive sea. It enables long-term sustainable growth for marine-based industries.

In maritime spatial planning, 11 different themes are considered

Maritime spatial planning considers the needs of many different forms of maritime use. Important sectors include energy production, maritime transport, fisheries, and aquaculture, as well as tourism, recreation and the environment, and nature.

Attention will also be paid to the needs of national defence, the characteristics of maritime areas, and the interaction between land and sea. Also, other themes, such as cultural heritage, the extraction industry, blue biotechnology, and maritime industry will be addressed in the plan.

The plan is proceeding in stages

Maritime spatial plans are now being drafted for the first time. They are scheduled for completion by March 31, 2021.

Phases and timeframe of the plan

Getting started and definition

The decision is taken to initiate and organise planning. Planning data is compiled an inclusive interaction plan is drafted.

Forming a situational picture

A situational picture of the characteristics of marine areas, the ecological status of the sea, and blue growth, is formed.

Reviewing the scenarios

Future scenarios for the Finnish sea area and their effects.

Consultation on the situational picture and scenarios.

Definition of the overall concept and measures.

Definition of the overall concepts and action paths for each planning area. Impact assessment ongoing.

Theme meetings

Consultation on the draft plans

The finalisation of the maritime spatial plans.

The finalisation and approval of the plans. The completion of the impact assessment and reporting of plans.

31.3.2021 The first completed maritime spatial plans.

Reporting and monitoring.

The second round of planning begins.

The plans are being prepared under the leadership of the associations of the Finnish coastal provinces and the Åland Provincial Government. The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for the general development, guidance, and international cooperation of maritime spatial planning.

Such planning aims to form, together with the stakeholders, a vision of how marine areas will be used in the future. Anyone can participate and influence such plans. By registering with the cooperation network, you can stay up to date with the planning stages!

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