Marine management and decision-making across borders


As part of the Celtic Seas Partnership project a series of case studies have been undertaken looking at best practice in a) transboundary governance; b) marine renewables co-location and c) sectoral interactions/conflicts. These case studies are being used to develop guidlines on best practice in marine management in cross-border settings.

Sea Basin(s): 
Ongoing: expected to be complete Sept 2016
Application in MSP: 
Applied in a related process
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Cross-border cooperation
Sea-basin cooperation
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Analyse spatial aspects
Develop and implement plan
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What are the challenges involved in transboundary marine governance?
  • What do stakeholders think about existing mechanisms for transboundary governance in the Celtic Seas?
  • What are the ingredients for successful transboudary marine governance?

Implementation Context

Whilst the natural marine environment knows no borders, human activity in our seas is subject to a plethora of national, administrative, and sectoral boundaries. The job of regulating and managing human marine activities to avoid conflict and ensure healthy and productive seas are sustained therefore represents a major challenge. The Celtic Sea Partnership Project was established to help marine authorities, users and  interests from across the EU MSFD Celtic Seas sub-region work harmoniously together across borders and sectoral boundaries, in ways which avoid conflict and support the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directives target of achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) in its seas by 2020.  To support this aim, the project has developed a series of best practice guidelines including one for Transboundary Marine Governance aimed at central government departments, statutory agencies, local councils and other agencies with a statutory marine management remit, as well as other marine users and interests involved in non-statutory, transboundary marine management initiatives, such as voluntary marine and coastal partnership bodies which involve representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Aspects / Objectives

  • Exploring the challenges of transboundary marine governance.
  • Understanding stakeholder’s assessment of existing mechanisms of transboundary marine governance.
  • Defining ingredients for successful transboundary marine governance.


These lessons and recommendations have been informed by extensive consultation with marine stakeholders from across a wide range of sectors in all of the countries and administrations in the Celtic Seas Region. This has included a total of 12 country workshop events held in Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and France, two international workshop events in Liverpool and Paris and four, more detailed Case Study investigations. These Case Study investigations captured stakeholders experiences and lessons from four examples of Transboundary Marine Governance models; three of these were located in different parts of the Celtic Seas and one was located in the North Sea. (Irish Loughs Agency, Solway Firth Partnership, Cross-Channel Forum and the Wadden Sea).

The Celtic Seas Partnership project is particularly concerned with understanding the most effective ways in which marine stakeholders and interests can be engaged and brought together to encourage constructive collaboration that delivers healthy, sustainable seas. The consultations and investigations undertaken to inform the lessons, recommendations and resources highlighted in them are therefore focussed particularly on addressing this challenge.

Main Outputs / Results

From the stakeholder consultations, discussions, meetings and interviews carried out by the Celtic Seas Partnership project the following emerged as the key recommendations for making future transboundary marine governance more effective in the Celtic Seas, and by extension other transnational marine regions:

The value and nature of both statutory and non-statutory governance mechanisms and forums needs to be recognised.
The experience and value of existing transboundary networks and forums should be built upon rather than reinventing or overlooking when considering new or improved structures.
Combining economic, social and environmental agendas may be a way to bring in the resources that are needed for such structures
From experience, a series of desirable features for future Transboundary Marine Governance structures involving multiple stakeholders can be defined.


The recommendations have a focus on the Celtic Seas. However the central element of the guidance may be relevant to all transnational marine regions.

Responsible Entity


Costs / Funding Source

EU Life+

Contact Person


Phone: +44 (0) 2920 538513