Complex and dynamic marine ecosystems support diverse sea life and sustain a multitude of environmental functions that are significant to humans from social, economical, biological and ecological perspectives. Exploitation of these natural systems has resulted in the abrupt decline in the sea’s capacity to provide ecosystem services and therefore it is crucial that steps be taken to maintain and recover biodiversity and integrity of marine ecosystems. Continuous and reckless use of marine ecosystems endangers seabed habitats, which are essential in providing a variety of ecosystem services, and also reduces the effectiveness of their ecological services. In order to minimise the undesirable consequences of recklessly exploiting marine ecosystems, some interdisciplinary, long-term, and integrated planning is required. A thorough understanding of the spatially-explicit ecosystem services, careful planning and decision-making mechanisms and successful implementation of these measures have become increasingly important in preservation of marine ecosystems, especially over the past three decades.
The document before you outlines the Marine Spatial Planning (“MSP”), which primarily sets out a strategic plan that focuses on a well-balanced and sensible use of spaces within a given marine environment. This document also aims to provide guidelines for different government sectors and policy makers as well as private entities that are, in one way or another, involved in marine-related activities to make integrated, complementary, and farsighted decisions. Above all, the most important objective of MSP is to eventually maximise the synergy amongst all marine-related activities, and to diminish and/or eliminate the disparity between the current human exploitations and the marine ecosystem capacities. These objectives can be achieved through preparation of a zoning map of the distribution of seabed-associated ecosystem services capacity, as well as implementing a permit-issuing procedure to identify and allocate suitable sea areas to appropriate marine-activities. It can be said that MSP follows the same goals as the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (“ICZM”) in the coastal and territorial waters.