Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is defined in the European Commission’s Directive on MSP as ‘a process by which the relevant Member State’s authorities analyse and organise human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives’..In practice, MSP has been considered world-wide even in a broader way as encompassing both formal and informal public undertakings and initiatives on how to use the sea space in line with societally agreed goals, values and targets. MSP can result in plans, permits and other administrative decisions that decide on the spatial and temporal distribution of relevant existing and future activities and uses in the marine waters, but the outcome of MSP can also take the form of different non-binding visions, strategies, planning concepts, guidelines and governance principles related to the use of sea space.
Generally, MSP is seen as an integrative process to cope with the increasing demand for maritime space from traditional and emerging sectors while preserving the proper functioning of the marine ecosystems. They key feature of MSP is its functional character i.e. integration of various sectors, societal needs, values and goals. MSP represents a move from traditional single sector planning to a more integrated approach to the planning of the sea.