Assessment of Collective Pressure in Marine Spatial Planning: the Current Approach of EU Member States

Ocean & Coastal Management


This study focuses on the implementation of cumulative impact assessments (CIA) in Maritime Spatial Planning to assess collective pressures on the marine environment. Several objectives set by European directives (Habitats Directive, Water Directive, MSFD, etc.) are not yet complete. The state of the marine waters suffers continuously from anthropogenic pressures. This paper highlights why CIAs are necessary for maritime spatial planning to be an ecosystem-based approach. 

November 2020
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Environment aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • What are the current practices of CIA in MSP in the European Union?
  • Which models are used to implement CIA?
  • How can CIA implementation ensure a good environmental status of marine ecosystems?

Implementation Context:

European seas are suffering anthropogenic pressures and eutrophication is a large-scale problem, while environmental objectives set up by several European directives (Habitats Directive, MSFD Directive, Water Framework Directive, etc.) have not yet been achieved.

Aspects / Objectives:

This study compares the use of Cumulative Impact Assessments by EU Member States in their MSP processes to identify similarities and differences, challenges, and successes.  


This paper is based on a desk study of previous and ongoing implementations of CIA in MSP by EU Member States. It also includes a questionnaire which was sent to national MSP authorities to collect additional information on national practices.

Main Outputs / Results:

This study describes the use of Cumulative Impact Assessment in Maritime Spatial Planning processes in the EU. It highlights the limits of CIA implementation and provides recommendations.


This practice can be transferable to any MSP process.

Responsible Entity:

Centre for Blue Governance, Department of Planning, Aalborg University, Denmark.

Funding Source:

Centre for Blue Governance, Department of Planning, Aalborg University, Denmark.

Contact person:

T.S. Kirkfeldt:



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