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Integrated Policy Framework for MSP

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There is a need to promote the use of Ireland’s maritime resources in such a way that ensures that the capacity of marine ecosystems to respond to human-induced changes is not compromised, while contributing to the social, economic and sustainable use of marine goods and services by present and future generations. Ireland's complex marine governance framework, resulting from layered legislative and administrative systems, is a challenge for the integrated and sustainable planning and management of the Irish marine environment. The overall aim of this project, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was to inform the development of an integrated policy framework for MSP in Ireland.

This project was broken down into six objectives; 1) establish the state of knowledge both nationally and internationally; 2) to isolate and learn from successes and failures in integrated marine management policy frameworks; 3) to identify key concerns and challenges with key stakeholders and policymakers; 4) to establish the role of different approaches to MSP and related policy in Ireland; 5) to set out the priorities and elements of an effective framework for integrated policy for MSP in Ireland through recommendations on the preparation of maritime spatial plans; 6) to maximise the impact of the research.

The results of this research suggest that a staged integrated approach be adopted for the preparation of maritime spatial plans in Ireland. The staged approach is recommended as it ensures that a rational and consistent process is applied to the spatial plan-making processes. This approach ensures that there is a full understanding of the maritime environment and issues, allows for appropriate objective-setting and strategy development, provides a framework for drafting the plan and resolving conflicts, and allows for adoption and monitoring. As spatial planning is an ongoing process within plan-making cycles, there is a review process that allows for revision and updating. Integration of plan-making, environmental assessment and consultation promotes broader acceptance by stakeholders, ensures a legally robust plan and effectively integrates environmental considerations and the ecosystem-based approach into plan preparation. The recommendations are designed to fit in with the Irish plan-making tradition and are informed by existing guidance.



​For more information on the project, contact Dr. Wesley Flannery -

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