2016 Seminar Re-interpreting the ‘Spatial’ in Marine Spatial Planning

2016 Seminar

Re-interpreting the ‘Spatial’ in Marine Spatial Planning

13th-14th October, University of Liverpool, UK


Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) tends to assume a physically-deterministic understanding of spatiality, by which MSP aims to allocate or steer maritime activities and interests to clearly-defined areas. Indeed, introducing a stronger spatial dimension of this kind is reckoned to be the special contribution of MSP to marine governance. However, it is also acknowledged that the marine environment and maritime activities are not always amenable to being treated like this, given the dynamism of the sea and the mobility of many activities. New thinking is needed that will underpin innovative approaches to MSP.

This calls for a reappraisal of the ‘spatial’ in MSP, and suggests that new understandings of the spatiality of the sea may help us to develop planning practices that are more in keeping with marine realities.

Spatiality is currently undergoing radical overhaul in related fields of study, especially human geography; new ideas are also filtering through to terrestrial planning. This line of thought is offering a ‘relational’ view of space, with emphasis on the construction of space through connections, which may be: social, physical or institutional; between elements that are human or non-human; across different scales and time periods; and dynamic and evolving. Marine geographers are drawing out the synergies between these interpretations of space and the natural and social dimensions of the sea.

Expanding our understanding of spatiality also opens up issues of social and political interaction and raises questions about the power relations being exercised in MSP and the differential outcomes of MSP processes.

This seminar will explore the relevance of these perspectives for MSP and the potential for developing innovative approaches to MSP that are more responsive to the sea’s characteristics and that can contribute to more socially-aware outcomes.

 More information about the event.