Several benefits of using MSP as a tool for achieving EBM and ICM include:
- Addresses social, cultural, economic, and environmental objectives with a holistic approach
- Integrates marine objectives (both between policies and between different planning levels)
- Improves site selection for development or conservation; more strategic and proactive approach that delivers long-term benefits
- Supports coordinated management at the scale of ecosystems as well as political jurisdictions
- Reduces conflicts among uses in the marine area
- Reduces risk of marine activities damaging marine ecosystems including improved consideration of cumulative effects
MSP is increasingly being used to help optimize resource allocation and manage the multiple uses of marine areas, particularly where conflicts exist among uses. MSP is often used to establish multiple-use MPAs or zoning arrangements, such the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia. It has been applied in other marine areas such as the Florida Keys, Channel Islands, Wadden Sea, North Sea, Irish Sea, Baltic Sea, among others. Case studies of MSP can be found on UNESCO’s MSP Around the World site and in the online Marine Spatial Planning Toolkit.
An MSP process can help resolve some of the biggest challenges associated with the ‘open access’ or ‘common’ nature of marine resource use (and overuse!). However, to be effective, MSP needs to be implemented with a strong commitment to process, engagement and follow through. MSP should be seen as an ongoing, iterative process that includes stakeholder participation and which leads to management outcomes.
Coral reef managers interested in initiating or participating in marine spatial planning processes may refer to resources for additional guidance, such as the UNESCO MSP site and the TNC MSP Toolkit or additional resources listed below.