Establishing a framework for Maritime Spatial Planning

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Establishing a framework for Maritime Spatial PlanningFollowing the adoption of a new EU Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning, the Planning Authority, which is the national Competent Authority for this Directive, is issuing for public consultation the draft regulations which seek to transpose this Directive into Maltese law.

The PA said that although maritime spatial planning is not new to Malta, this new directive, which was enacted in July 2014, aims to increase coherence among European Member States in their approach to manage the use of maritime space by seeking the establishment of a framework for maritime spatial planning.

While each Member State will retain the flexibility on plan preparation and procedures, as part of the broader portfolio of the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy, this Directive is intended to establish a set of common minimum requirements and promote growth of maritime economics, development of marine areas and use of marine resources within the context of sustainable development.

Malta has been planning and regulating development at sea through the planning system for over two decades, the PA said. "The adoption of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED) in 2015, constitutes the national strategic policy direction for maritime spatial planning."

The Planning Authority added that, the SPED has adopted an integrated approach towards the Coastal Zone and Marine Area with a view to enable and enhance the existing and potential synergies in the achievement of national objectives in particular towards the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, as well as supporting the national integrated maritime policy.

Once these new regulations are adopted, the Planning Authority said it intends to work with the relevant Government entities, and other stakeholders to ensure that the implementation of this Directive is successfully implemented in national policies and objectives affecting maritime space and the marine environment.

"As support to the Competent Authority, a technical committee involving Malta Maritime Agency, the Environment and Resources Authority, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and the Continental Shelf Department has already been established."

The Authority said it will also co-operate with other counterparts in other EU Member States bordering Malta's marine waters with the aim of ensuring that maritime spatial plans are coherent and coordinated across the marine region concerned.

The public and interested parties may view the draft regulations on the Authority's website here.

Submissions pertaining to these regulations may be sent through the email address by not later than Thursday 28 July 2016.

The full text of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive may be viewed through this weblink

Photograph by Alain Salvary

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