Town Planning Review

Built at sea: Marine management and the construction of marine spatial planning

Town Planning Review (2010), 81, (2), 173–192.

Abstract

The notion of marine spatial planning (MSP) has recently emerged as a means of improving marine administration. By tracing its origins and investigating the key themes involved in the promotion of MSP, this article shows that it is best understood as an adoption of planning by marine and coastal interests rather than an offshore extension of existing planning practice. MSP is being constructed around the norms and assumptions of marine management, underlain by scientific rationalism. However, MSP also marks a shift towards spatial thinking for the marine environment, and deliberate attempts are being taken to incorporate established planning concepts into MSP. Stronger interaction between the two epistemic communities is called for in order to bring critical reflection to bear, with the aim of contributing to the development of this initiative that will significantly shape our use of the seas.

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Jay, Stephen