Spatial Strategies at the Land-Sea Interface: Rethinking Maritime Spatial Planning

11-13th September 2019, University of Hamburg, Institute for Geography

Under the EU Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Directive adopted in 2014, Member States are tasked with the preparation of maritime spatial plans by 2021. These plans are required to ‘take into account land-sea interactions’ and ‘should aim to integrate the maritime dimension of some coastal uses or activities and their impacts’ (EU 2014, 138). Accordingly, inshore territorial waters must be included within either marine spatial plans or land-based spatial plans where they extend beyond the coastline (EU 2014, 140, Article 2:1). Contemporary and future challenges of climate change adaptation, coastal erosion and sea-level rise underline the need for visionary and inclusive spatial strategies at the coast (O’ Riordan et al 2014, Walsh 2019).

Experience to date, however, indicates that MSP occupies a different institutional and policy space to land-based terrestrial spatial planning. MSP has emerged within a marine management context and for the most part constitutes its own epistemic community, at a distance from current developments and debates in spatial planning research and practice on land (Jay 2010, Kidd & Ellis 2012). And although MSP is becoming established as a formal policy instrument applied in a coordinated manner across Europe, European terrestrial spatial planning has reached an impasse, with a discernible shift away from ambitious spatial strategies at national and regional scales (Salet 2016). Furthermore, as policies andpractices of integrated coastal zone management are displaced through a focus of attention on MSP, there is a risk of a ‘new coastal squeeze’ where the land and marine become institutionalised as distinct policy spaces (Shipman & Stojanovic 2007, 389, Walsh & Kannen 2019).

There is, however, increased recognition of the contested context of competing interests, perceptions, values and worldviews within which MSP is practiced (Ritchie & Ellis, 2010, Flannery et al 2018). Kidd and Shaw (2014), in particular, critique the dominant instrumental view of MSP as a rational, technical process of universal applicability, contending that marine spatial planning is ‘a social and political process that is inevitably highly differentiated and place-specific’ (2014, 1536). Jay (2012, 2013) has more specifically critiqued the spatialities underlying current MSP practices, calling for relational perspectives in place of functional zoning. More recently, he has explored the potential for more progressive MSP practices inspired by theoretical work on soft spaces and the lively materiality of marine space (Jay 2018). Critical perspectives by Smith & Brennan (2012) and Bode (2015) have meanwhile challenged dominant ways of representing space in MSP whereas recent contributions from cultural geography and spatial planning have critically examined the construction of place, space and landscape in contemporary practices of coastal planning and management (Walsh & Döring 2018).

Working more closely within the MSP policy framework, Gee (2010) and Gee et al (2017) have introduced the concepts of seascape values and culturally significant areas in an effort to focus attention on place-based cultural meanings and values within MSP. Most recently, Trouillet et al (2019) have produced experimental alternative mappings for MSP based on spatial data generated by fishers and fishery organisations.

It is against this background that this workshop will explore and critically reflect on the capacity for MSP and spatial planning more broadly to address the challenges posed by the sustainable governance of the land-sea interface. Rather than seeking to provide evidence to support planning processes we hope improve understanding of such processes and to foster a more critical, reflexive dialogue between research and practice. In particular, we seek to focus on the spatial dimensions of MSP and spatial planning at the coast, and their articulations in practice. Key topics for discussion and reflection include the capacity of MSP to work with relational connections across space and the potential to engage with place-based knowledges and multiple ways of knowing the sea. The workshop will include a mix of keynote presentations, panel discussions with practitioners, interactive break-out sessions and a limited number of research papers solicited through this open call for papers. In particular we are interested in theoretically informed contributions which address one or more of the following aspects:

  • Current practices in spatial strategy-making at the land-sea interface
  • Alternative spatialities in MSP: e.g. working with relational space, soft spaces, peopled seascapes
  • Integrated spatial strategies at the land-sea interface: current challenges and transformative potential