The benefits of Marine Spatial Planning
California’s long-term economic and environmental health relies, in part, on the health of coastal and marine ecosystems. Scientists have identified potential threats to these ecosystems. The “science” is not necessarily universally accepted as fact, but it is interesting.
Ocean’s resources are not limitless, and we can negatively affect conditions in the ocean. Seabass along the west coast of North America have nearly been fished to extinction. Aquaculture business interests have revitalized the seabass population in operations off the coast of Mexico, but not off US coastlines, where environmental interests have thwarted their development.
There are several new proposed uses of the ocean such as; alternative energy projects, liquid natural gas facilities, and aquaculture projects. These business uses must be balanced with the desire to maintain healthy ocean ecosystems.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is a process of analyzing and allocating parts of marine spaces (or ecosystems) to specific uses or objectives, to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that are usually specified through a political process.
According to The Maritime Alliance, MSP can bring many benefits.
- Creation of greater certainty to the private sector when it plans new investments, often with a 30-year lifetime;
- Identification of compatible uses within the same area for development;
- Reduction of conflicts among incompatible uses and between uses and nature;
- Identification of areas of biological or ecological importance;
- Incorporation of biodiversity objectives at the heart of marine spatial planning and management;
- Allocation of space for biodiversity and nature conservation;
- Provision of a planning context for a network of marine protected areas; and
- Reduction of cumulative impacts of human uses on marine ecosystems.
- Improved opportunities for community and citizen participation;
- Identification of impacts of decisions on the allocation of ocean space for certain use (or non-use) for onshore communities and economies;
- Identification and improved protection of cultural heritage; and
- Identification and preservation of social and spiritual values related to ocean use.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a necessary and important process being implemented at both the state and national levels to help ensure that we can continue to make use of the ocean’s resources and enjoy the ocean without degrading those resources.