A Finnish regional non-binding MSP approach: What are the consequences for integrating Blue Growth and GES?

Päivi Haapasaari, Jan P. M. van Tatenhove

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The EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (MSPD) requires the member states (MS) to pursue Blue Growth while ensuring good environmental status (GES) of sea areas. An ecosystem-based approach (EBA) should be used for the integration of the aims. However, the MSPD does not specify how the MS should arrange their MSP governance, which has led to a variety of governance arrangements and solutions in addressing the aims. We analysed the implementation of the MSPD in Finland, to identify conditions that may enable or constrain the integration of Blue Growth and GES in the framework of EBA. MSP in Finland is an expert-driven regionalized approach with a legally non-binding status. The results suggest that this MSP framework supports the implementation of EBA in MSP. Yet, unpredictability induced by the non-binding status of MSP, ambiguity of the aims of MSP and of the concept of EBA, and the need to pursue economic viability in the coastal municipalities may threaten the consistency of MSP in both spatial and temporal terms. Developing MSP towards a future-oriented adaptive and collaborative approach striving for social learning could improve the legitimacy of MSP and its capacity to combine Blue Growth and GES. The analysis indicates, that in the delivery of successful MSP adhering to the principles of EBA should permeate all levels of governance. The study turns attention to the legal status of MSP as a binding or non-binding planning instrument and the role the legal status plays in facilitating or constraining predictability and adaptability required in MSP.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105101
Journal Marine Policy
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • governance
  • legal status of MSP
  • policy arrangements
  • regional approach
  • soft law
  • Policy arrangements
  • Legal status of MSP
  • Regional approach
  • Soft law
  • Governance

Field of science

  • Law


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