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Newsletter #1

Documentation of the
BaltSeaPlan kick-off meeting

Stralsund, Germany, 18th June 2009


On behalf of the Lead Partner, the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), Mr Mathias Jonas opened the kick-off. He expressed his pleasure that 14 partners from 7 Baltic Sea countries joined this Maritime Spatial Planning project for the Baltic Sea, which was approved by the Baltic Sea Region Programme. He highlighted the importance of this project for transboundary co-operation and the special interest of BSH because of the activities on drafting a Maritime Spatial Plan for the German Exclusive Economic Zone of the Baltic Sea.

1. Developing the EU Roadmap on MSP

Nicole Schäfer, EU Commission DG MARE

The EU Maritime Policy was designed as to integrate the many different sector policies related to maritime affairs. DG MARE is in charge of many of the activities presented in the Blue Book Action Plan, others are under responsibility of other DGs, eg. DG REGIO (Regional Development), DG ENV (Environment) or DG TREN (Transport and Energy).
Among the main pillars of the Blue Book Action Plan, the most relevant for BaltSeaPlan are:
  • Recommendation on National Integrated Maritime Policies. Some countries (Sweden, Germany, Poland, UK, The Netherlands, France) already made steps in this direction
  • Integrated policy tools such as coordination of surveillance systems, EMODNET (European Marine Observation and Data Network) and MSP
Mrs. Schäfer stressed that main tasks and the added value of BaltSeaPlan are to build in the ecosystem approach, to encourage cross-border co-operation and to facilitate common understanding of MSP, e.g. with regard to Strategic Environmental Assessment.

The Roadmap for MSP, which was adopted by the Commission on 25 November 2008, sets out 10 key principles for MSP and seeks to promote a common understanding of MSP at European level. The EU Commission is currently organising a set of 4 workshops to raise the awareness of MSP and to discuss the 10 key principles with Member States, stakeholders and experts It is a ‘soft’ approach, but it turned out to be very effective.
So far 2 workshops took place, plus one additional workshop during the Maritime Day in Rome. Dates of the next meetings are:
  • 2-3rd July 09 on the Azores
  • 2nd October 09 in Stockholm
organised in close cooperation with the Swedish EU Presidency
The next steps of DG MARE regarding the further development of MSP are:
  1. Launch of a study on economic benefits of MSP
  2. Two ‘preparatory actions’ (to be launched before the summer break) which aim to test the mentioned ten MSP key principles in practice in a cross-border context.
  3. Study on MSP in Mediterranean
The EU ‘preparatory actions’ were discussed in terms of their potential links to the BaltSeaPlan project. Mrs. Schäfer stressed that the EU wants to join forces and draw-up on processes happening already (such as VASAB and HELCOM), rather than inventing something totally new. Emphasis will be placed on transnational pilots. EU funds for the ‘preparatory actions’ are around 400.000 euro.

The new EU Baltic Sea Strategy was also discussed with Mrs. Schäfer. She highlighted that the mentioned 'preparatory action' for MSP in the Baltic Sea is already incorporated in the EU Baltic Sea Strategy as one of the horizontal actions.
On the question, whether the Integrated Maritime Policy will also integrate the Marine Environmental Strategies (recommended by the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive), Mrs Schäfer answered that it is a welcome synergy, and that DG MARE is working together with DG ENV on this issue. The interrelations between MSP and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive will be subject of discussion during the 3rd EU MSP workshop on the Azores 2-3rd July 09.

2. The Interest of the German Federal Government in co-operation within the Baltic Sea Region

Ulrich Kasparick, State Secretary, German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs

As a coastal state, Germany has a natural interest in cooperating with the Baltic Sea Region. The sea should not act as a barrier, but as a connecting platform. Mr Kasparick expressed that a new form of co-operation is necessary, such as it is the case in this project. Due to the complexity of the marine eco-system, Maritime Spatial Planning is an example of an issue making this cooperation particularly necessary. He highlighted the need for balancing of interests and to solve spatial conflicts as early as possible. 
He also stressed the importance of including the, today absent, Russian neighbours into this process.

The German Federal government wants to play a leading role in the co-operation of the Baltic Sea Region states with regard to MSP activities on the Baltic Sea. The following aims should be accomplished:
  • Include everyone who wants to be included
  • Make the Baltic sea a truly regional sea
  • Re-think the management patterns from the past and find new answers to dynamic developments, for example the climate change
Mr. Kasparick concluded with saying that the BaltSeaPlan project should bring us closer to all of the above goals.

3. Spatial Planning in the coastal sea – the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern experience

Sebastian Schröder, State Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Building and Regional Development, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Mr Schröder welcomed the participants in the Hanseatic City of Stralsund, which is not only a gateway to Rügen, the biggest German island where tourism is the main focus, but also a dynamic maritime location with a shipyard and commercial harbour. Because of this Stralsund shows exemplary the tasks of Spatial Planning: balancing of interests between different users, on land as well as on sea.

In the second part of his presentation Mr Schröder displayed a map showing the great variety of different sea-uses identified in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 12 sea mile zone area within the BaltCoast project, where the Ministry was already active. It was at that time that Germany has extended its terrestrial planning law on sea up to the EEZ, and in the 12-sea mile zone gave responsibility to the Länder. Mr Schröder gave a short overview on the activities of Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern:
  • Spatial Development Programme from the 2005, covered for the first time declarations for single uses in the coastal sea (wind farms and connecting cables, pipelines, nature protection, tourism and sand/gravel extraction)
  • The update of the Spatial Development Programme will be undertaken undertaken in the framework of BaltSeaPlan project, where Ministry of Transport Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is also represented.
In conclusion Mr Schröder stressed the importance of transboundary cooperation and expressed his wish that the M-V Spatial Development Programme will be a valuable contribution to the ambitious goals set by the BaltSeaPlan project.

4. Introduction to the BaltSeaPlan project

Nico Nolte, Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency BSH, Lead Partner

In the position of the project Lead Partner, Dr. Nico Nolte presented the basic facts about the BaltSeaPlan project, its background, partners, goals and activities.

In the first part of his presentation Mr. Nolte described the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) as a forward looking, cross-sectoral use-coordination tool, which gives long-term security to stakeholders. The relatively small MSP experience in the Baltic Sea Region, and the extraordinary importance of transboundary co-operation are the rationale behind the BaltSeaPlan project. Also in most countries of the region there is a yet insufficient legal basis and capacities for such a planning. BaltSeaPlan is a unique chance to create a joint understanding for MSP rules and mechanisms, and creating new regulations on transnationally harmonised principles.

BaltSeaPlan was approved by the first call of Baltic Sea Region Programme (former INTERREG) with 3,7 m EUR budget for the years 2009-2012. Fourteen partner institutions from seven Baltic countries are going to learn together from pilot initiatives on MSP in some of the most important parts of the Baltic. The overarching goal of the project is thus to put the theoretical MSP cycles (as described in various MSP handbooks from former initiatives) into reality in the Baltic Sea Region.

Afternoon Session: from past experience to future planning

Lessons learned from the MSP handbooks of PlanCoast, BALANCE and UNESCO IOC

Angela Schultz-Zehden, external manager of the BaltSeaPlan project, and formerly also manager of the PlanCoast and BaltCoast projects, introduced briefly the three MSP handbooks to be discussed in the afternoon session:
  • The PlanCoast Handbook on Maritime Spatial Planning is based on the PlanCoast (2006-2008) and BaltCoast (2003-2005) projects’ practical experience won during the course of preparing several demonstration maritime spatial plans in the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Sea.
  • The BALANCE Technical Summary Report 4/4: ‘Towards marine spatial planning in the Baltic Sea’ is the contribution of the scientific expertise won by the BALANCE project (2005-2008) into the MSP discussion.
  • The most recent manual: ‘Marine Spatial Planning: a step-by-step approach toward ecosystem-based management’ written by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) consultants Charles Ehler and Fanny Douvere attempts a world-wide perspective as it is based on the experience of pilot MSP sites in USA and Vietnam.

Block A: MSP Context

Kira Gee, external expert, GKSS-Forschungszentrum Geesthacht 

Most countries that have embarked on MSP have done so out of a need to tackle particular conflicts & problems in the areas of:
  • Economic development (e.g. new offshore energy installations / aquaculture facilities)
  • Environmental conservation (e.g. protection of biologically & ecologically important areas)
The PlanCoast as well as UNESCO Handbook have developed a checklist, whether a MSP process is urgently needed. Early indications for a need to introduce MSP are thus:
  • Sensitive & fragile ecosystems
  • large-scale uses
  • rapid changes to socio-economic or political system
All handbooks agree, however, that a MSP process (even if not of too detailed nature) would be good everywhere as it is not only about conflict search, but also offers ways to promote positive synergies. Thus it is recommended to establish an institutional framework for MSP, which:
  • assigns different scales to different tasks
  • downscales responsibilities as much as possible
  • is led by one central coordinating body
The legal framework for MSP can either be based on 1) a new MSP law or 2) an adaptation of existing regulations. Only the UNESCO handbooks sees the creation of the appropriate framework as an integral part of the MSP step-by-step cycle. The PlanCoast handbooks stresses the importance of the lobbying role of planners to show the importance of MSP, but treats it outside their direct responsibility.


• Jan Ekebom / Metsähallitus, FI
• Nerijus Blazauskas / CORPI LT
• Nicole Schäfer / EC DG MARE
• Jacek Zaucha / Maritime Institute, PL (formerly VASAB)
• Christian Dahlke / BSH 


The panel agreed that data collection is the easiest part of the MSP process. There is sufficient amount of data existing already to at least start the MSP process. Later on, when new /better data basis is available, the MSP cycle makes an up-date of the plan possible and recommendable. In this way lack of certain data is never an excuse not to start MSP.

Block B: Information needs and assessment tools

Kira Gee, external expert, GKSS-Forschungszentrum Geesthacht 

What do we need to know for MSP? Harmonized mapping data and analysis of this data is the foundation upon which MSP is built! Generally, the rule “garbage in = garbage out” applies.

There is a big difference between (but nevertheless often mixed up):
  • Existing conditions (stocktake) => need for MSP
  • Future conditions (scenarios) => towards MSP
  • Mapping (descriptive)
  • Impact analysis (assessment/evaluation)
Types of information and data needs:
  • Environmental characteristics (stocktake of what is, biodiversity, ecosystem services, etc. - ongoing monitoring)
  • Assessment of human impacts and pressures (e.g. DPSIR, environmental quality, socio-economic data)
  • Spatial information (e.g. conflicts, compatibilities)
  • Desired future use (e.g. nature protection, economic)
  • Need for relevant data
  • Need for differentiated indicators
Regardless of information type, one should keep in mind that data gathering is not a goal in itself, but should only be gathered if it aids decision-making. In order to give information a meaning, several assessment methods were developed.

Of the three handbooks, BALANCE has dedicated most attention to the assessment methods such as the environmental characterisation, human impacts and pressures’ assessment, socio-economical analysis, biodiversity assessment. PlanCoast stresses the family of environmental assessments (vulnerability and impact assessments), cost-benefit analysis, rating spatial impacts and scenarios. The UNESCO handbook recommends the different scenario types (trend scenario, spatial sea use scenario, preferred scenario) as the tool for identifying possible alternative futures for the planning area.


• Jan Ekebom / Metsähallitus, Finland
• Nerijus Blazauskas / CORPI Lithuania
• Nicole Schäfer / EC DG MARE
• Jacek Zaucha / Maritime Institute in Gdansk, Poland (formerly VASAB)
• Christian Dahlke / BSH Germany


In the first round of questions the panel was asked to report on the MSP framework conditions in their own countries. Generally all observed a shift of perception of MSP among the Baltic governments. In Finland the positive breakthrough is first associated with the MSP workshops organised by the EU Commission DG MARE which started in 2008. In Lithuania the work was pushed by the POWER project simulations in search for areas for offshore wind energy generation. Also the German government was once disinterested in introducing MSP, as this seemed to be of little practical value. Now that Germany officially introduced MSP the interest in the development of MSP in other countries is rising, as benefits of MSP can be realised much better once all countries use the tool of MSP. Effects would be a) increased investment security, b) shipping safety and c) the restored ecological status of the sea. As for Russia, there is a real interest in MSP issues among specialists. A way of gaining a larger support could be thus through cooperation with the scientific circles.

The next topic was, whether the current BSR visions are strong enough to drive the BSR to introduce MSP? In the opinion of Jacek Zaucha representing the VASAB, only pressures can really drive MSP. Visions can and should give MSP the direction, once it is established. BaltSeaPlan with its common vision for the Baltic Sea will provide a welcome completion to the VASAB Long Term Perspective.

Block C: Stakeholder involvement

Kira Gee, external expert, GKSS-Forschungszentrum Geesthacht 

There is a substantial difference between the statutory stakeholder involvement procedures and what is recommended by all three discussed handbooks in terms of participative approach to spatial planning. All three handbooks stress that only a truly cooperative (participative) approach, which requires initially more time and resources, leads eventually to a cooperative framework and durable success of the plan’s regulations.

In her presentation Kira Gee stressed also the importance of a communication strategy when approaching the stakeholders, as well as choosing the suitable techniques, such as e.g. professional facilitators, visualising materials or choice between the different meetings form.


Even though the benefits of an early and intensive stakeholder involvement are well known, there are only a few practical examples: During the preparation of the German EEZ plan “only” the statutory procedure was applied. As the plan preparing authority BSH found it very difficult to maintain the balance between the sometimes contradictory claims of the different off-shore stakeholders. It is clear that not everybody can be satisfied. Stakeholder involvement is also closely correlated to the question of responsibility: who is making the decision. In case of the German EEZ plan it was the Ministry of Transport who eventually decided about including these or other claims (e.g. the claim for more space for offshore energy). The second round of consultations is running at the moment, in the end it is a political decision legitimised through the democratic system. Andrzej Cieslak of the Maritime Office Gdynia added that although the decision-making authority cannot be fully unbiased (which is a weak point of the stakeholder involvement process), they also will learn with time and next plans will be better harmonised.

In case of the 2005 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 12smz plan a combination of top-down and cooperative approaches was chosen. One the one hand stakeholders are part of the formal plan-developing-process. On the other hand stakeholders are very important partners to realise the plan with different projects. In this context the so-called voluntary agreements were a good way of achieving not only a compromise, but a win-win situation. Stakeholders knowledge provided a ‘second check’ to the plan. However, also voluntary agreements do not necessarily reflect that a “true” cooperation has been achieved and are therefore often flawed in that they can easily be broken.

The panel agreed that stakeholders are the same regardless of operating in Eastern or Western Baltic States. It was, however, pointed out that the relative power between different stakeholder groups differs substantially between different regions. The panel also agreed that stakeholder involvement is equally important for offshore areas; but that current structures do not function sufficiently well to moderate the process between different countries (as stakeholders).


• Andrea Morf / University of Gothenburg, SE
• Anda Ruskule / BEF LV
• Nico Nolte / BSH DE
• Andrzej Cieslak / Maritime Office Gdynia, PL
• Jochen Lamp / WWF DE

Block D: Zoning

Kira Gee, external expert, GKSS-Forschungszentrum Geesthacht 

According to the MSP handbooks, a spatial plan is a vision of the future. A spatial plan is thus principally different from a map of uses, which ‘merely’ documents the status quo of the area. Maps are only a necessary basis for spatial plans. A plan comprises of a visual and a written part.

When it comes to drawing up the plan, the most common type of regulation is zoning. There are various zoning concepts, e.g. the BALANCE zoning template or the zoning system anchored in the German spatial planning act.
The actual planning is about prioritising and thus leads back to the various guiding principles, goals and objectives at different levels. Ideally National Maritime Strategy exist, which are based on a guiding vision taking into account land-sea & cross-sectoral interrelations, which are tied into international developments and are refined in regional strategies. These need to be revised during the planning process.

Another starting point is to identify first the “immovables”; i.e. those uses for which no alternative location is available (i.e. ports, extraction sites, designated Natura 2000 sites). As a general principle the most suitable space as possible should be chosen with at the same time lowest possible negative impact.


• Andrea Morf / University of Gothenburg, SE
• Anda Ruskule / BEF LV
• Nico Nolte / BSH DE
• Andrzej Cieslak / Maritime Office Gdynia, PL
• Jochen Lamp / WWF DE


The German EEZ plan is in fact both: it is a map of uses, while at the same time setting goals for the future. Empty areas were kept in order to allow new, unknown uses. In Germany the same zoning template is applied for the sea than for the land. Some participants argued, however, that the complex sea ecosystems demand adapted concepts, which should consider e.g. depth of the water and time as the additional factors.

It was stressed by the panel that also mapping of marine habitats only is a very valuable basis (first step) for maritime spatial planning as visualisations of marine habitats can help stakeholders to consider the impacts of their activities.

The panel was optimistic that the BaltSeaPlan project represents a valuable step towards creating a transboundary cooperation on MSP. The panel agreed that the biggest benefit will be gained from the exchange of experience and the joint experience gained within the pilot exercises, which will visualise the case for MSP. Furthermore it was agreed that, if BaltSeaPlan were to lead to minimum standards for MSP and SEA on sea, it would be of great value for the Baltic Sea Region.

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This project is part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund)
Baltic Sea Region