EBA in MSP – a SEA Inclusive Handbook.


To implement the Ecosystem-based Approach (EBA) in Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in a cross-border setting is a challenge as it involves administrative, planning and other institutional differences. This handbook aims to contribute to a better understanding of such differences context and to provide tools for a more harmonised implementation of EBA in MSP.


Sea Basin(s): 
Application in MSP: 
Applied in a related process
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Ecosystem-based approach
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Develop and implement plan
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Habitats and Birds Directive
Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Strategic Environmental Assessment
Water Framework Directive

Questions this practice may help answer: 

  • How to implement the ecosystem-based approach in the MSP process? 

Implementation Context: 

The handbook is developed within the framework of the Pan Baltic Scope project. 

Aspects / Objectives: 

The handbook aims to provide tools for a more harmonised implementation of EBA in MSP.


The methodology addresses the implementation of the Ecosystem-based Approach (EBA), provides the comparison of different Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA), and links MSP with key policies, such as the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD.) It incorporates a literature review, analyses of existing plans and interviews with experts. 

Main Outputs / Results: 

The implementation of the ecosystem-based approach in maritime spatial planning relies on the interaction of several policy tools. The “Ecosystem-based Toolbox” provides recommendations regarding the aspects of EBA that may be relevant at each stage of the MSP process. Strategic Environmental Assessment remains to be the main tool of the EBA in the maritime spatial planning that can contribute to the effectiveness of the MSP process. 


The methods applied and the concepts developed are transferable to other sea basin regions and individual needs of maritime spatial planners.

Responsible Entity: 

Pan Baltic Scope project.  

Funding Source: 

The report is developed within the framework of the Pan Baltic Scope project funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).