Towards Marine Spatial Planning for the Northern and Western Region of Ireland

On March 7th 2023, I facilitated and led an online stakeholder workshop on marine spatial planning on behalf of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly. Following the publication of Ireland’s National Marine Planning Framework and marine spatial planning legislation in 2021, the focus has shifted towards the subnational level. Regional Assemblies can, working together coastal local authorities, potentially play a key role in preparation and coordination of Designated Maritime Area Plans for nearshore areas.

The workshop brought together a wide range of stakeholder voices, including contributions from the islands (IIMRO), environmental NGOs (Fair Seas), the business sector, government agencies and local authorities. Thank you to all who contributed! To capture the diversity of different perspectives and to provide a memorable recording of the workshop discussion we engaged visual recorder and illustrator Ruth Graham, who produced the above image as the workshop was in progress!

My own presentations focussed on the rationale for an integrated and coordinated approach to marine spatial planning at the coast and discussed potential learnings from international experience in subnational marine spatial planning elsewhere in Europe. The workshop and draft position paper represent the first steps in the development of marine spatial planning for the Northern and Western Region. It is recognised that the marine presents new and emerging opportunities for economic development within the region but that the growth of the blue economy will require careful coordination and strategic planning to ensure efficient use of resources and protection of vulnerable marine ecosytems.

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