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Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)

For recent WOC documents produced through its MSP Project, please visit the Resources page.

MSP is developing rapidly in many areas, especially the EU, US and Australia. Engaging in effective decision-making through an MSP process is a key need for the ocean business community. The WOC developed an MSP Working Group (WG) and will ensure the planning process includes both the systematic and comprehensive involvement of a diverse range of ocean industries as well as the use of credible science and risk assessment. Proactive, constructive and coordinated participation in MSP by an informed ocean business community is critical to achieving its business value. The MSP Working Group is developing a work plan that will include practical tools and resources for ocean industries to use during an MSP process.

In Europe, the WOC has been tracking the MSP process at the EU Maritime Policy level and engaging with the relevant components. The MSP focus is now moving to the regional/sea basin level, e.g. Baltic, North Sea. This is creating the need and opportunity for the ocean business community to get organized at the regional scale. In regions where there is sufficient need and interest from stakeholders, the WOC will organize regional ocean business MSP workshops. A regional ocean business council may emerge from this process as an ongoing means for the private sector to provide systemic, ongoing interaction with each other on marine planning and the means to engage collectively in the overall MSP process.

In the US, the need for the ocean industries to better understand and engage in MSP has become urgent due to the US National Policy and the National Ocean Council. Among other things, this has called for the development and implementation of MSP through a series of nine regional (sub-national) planning bodies. The government convened a major inter-agency conference in mid-2011 to advance its MSP plans. WOC convened the first National Ocean Business Forum on MSP in July 2011 to ensure that ocean industries are better understand MSP, are full informed of the government plans and to develop constructive and coordinated participation by an informed ocean business community as it advances. As the US MSP process rolls out at a regional level, WOC has launched a MSP Initiative to reach out to the range of ocean sectors active in each region to facilitate understanding and involvement in the newly mandated ocean planning process. Outcomes of the MSP Initiative will include: 1) National ocean policy and planning in the US has the coordinated, proactive involvement of a well-informed multi-industry leadership group; 2) Each of the nine regions has a comprehensive understanding of the industry stakeholders in the region and 3)A regional ocean business council is established in three regions.

WOC MSP Sponsored Events:

2010 – Sustainable Ocean Summit – MSP Seminar, Belfast, Northern Ireland

2011 – National Business Forum on Marine Spatial Planning, Washington DC, USA

2013 – Sustainable Ocean Summit – MSP Session, Washington DC, USA

  • MSP is well understood by WOC members and other ocean industry representatives - as measured by the range of industries and number of participants at WOC workshops on MSP.
  • Ocean industries are well engaged in the MSP process in the key countries/regions - as measured by the number and range of companies remaining involved in ongoing planning process.
  • MSP takes into account the needs and interests of responsible ocean businesses - as measured by the MSP results that are considered reasonable and workable for responsible businesses and optimize the business benefits of MSP.
  • MSP WG has formed
  • - Status: Complete
  • MSP Program and Workplan developed and circulated to the WOC Members for review
  • - Status: Complete
  • Survey of WOC Members and broader ocean business community about MSP
  • - Status: Complete
  • WOC Members workshop on MSP
  • - Status: Complete
  • Organize National Business Forum on MSP in the US
  • - Status: Complete
  • Produce report and recommendations from MSP Business Forum
  • - Status: Complete
  • Continue MSP WG to develop program and actions
  • - Status: Ongoing
  • Engage key US national ocean policy events
  • - Status: Ongoing
  • Engage in key US regional MSP developments
  • - Status: Ongoing
  • Obtain support for major WOC MSP program
  • - Status: Complete
  • Convene MSP theme session at Sustainable Ocean Summit
  • - Status: Complete
  • Establish WOC MSP program and staffing
  • - Status: Complete
  • Re-empanel MSP Working Group
  • - Status: Complete
  • Develop new MSP Work Plan
  • - Status: Complete and approved by Board
  • Survey on WOC's role in MSP to ocean business community
  • - Status: Complete
  • Stakeholder map of ocean industries in each U.S. region developed
  • - Status: Ongoing. South Atlantic as pilot project.
  • Convene a Business Forum on Ocean Policy and Planning
  • - Status: In Progress. Scheduled for September 29-30, 2014 (NYC)
  • Develop simulation of industry involvement in various types of MSP exercises
  • - Status: In Planning Stage
  • Create case studies of global industry involvement in MSP processes
  • - Status: In Progress
  • Ocean Business Networks established in three U.S. regions
  • - Status: In Progress