Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) is about proper use and management of ocean and coastal spaces based on publicly agreed upon goals and objectives. It is about ensuring that marine uses are compatible and occur in areas where environmental effects are avoided or minimized. The need for CMSP is the result of increasing competition for ocean space by existing and emerging users. It is now critical to better coordinate decision making to meet both economic and conservation objectives.
Internationally, CMSP is defined as “a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives that are usually specified through a political process” (UNESCO 2009). To date, this has been the general definition followed in Canada, while the United States has defined CMSP as “a comprehensive, adaptive, integrated, ecosystem-based, and transparent planning process, based on sound science, for analyzing current and anticipated uses of ocean, coastal and Great Lake areas” (Ocean Policy Task Force 2010).