BaltSeaPlan: Seven nations, one vision for an inland sea

Jessi Kershner Rachel M. Gregg
Posted on: 2/26/2017 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

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Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

The BaltSeaPlan project was a US$3.8 million (€3.7 million) project aimed at gaining as much practical experience and understanding of integrated maritime spatial planning in the Baltic Sea region as possible, as well as providing recommendations for the development of national maritime strategies for seven Baltic Sea countries (Germany, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Denmark). Fourteen partners from these countries worked together on the BaltSeaPlan framework, including:

  • Germany: German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH), WWF Germany, Ministry of Transport, Building and Regional Development Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • Poland: Maritime Office in Szczecin, Maritime Office in Gdynia, Maritime Institute in Gdańsk
  • Denmark: National Environmental Research Institute (NERI)
  • Sweden: Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • Estonia: Estonian Marine Institute of University of Tartu, Baltic Environmental Forum (BEF) Estonia
  • Lithuania: Coastal Research and Planning Institute (CORPI), Baltic Environmental Forum (BEF) Lithuania
  • Latvia: Baltic Environmental Forum (BEF) Latvia

Discussions about the BaltSeaPlan project began in 2007 in reaction to the publication of the EU Blue Book on Integrated Maritime Policy, as well as the adoption of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, which calls for development of broad-scale marine spatial planning principles in the region. Lacking a legal basis, it was understood from the beginning the BaltSeaPlan would not be a regulatory document, but rather serve as a framework to inform national cross-sectoral decision-making, planning, and management. Based on national visions, project partners worked together to develop a joint Baltic Sea regionwide vision (BaltSeaPlan Vision 2030) regarding a well-managed network of marine protected areas, taking into account transnational interdependencies and cumulative impacts, including climate change. The Vision highlights the need for a holistic approach to CMSP that focuses on the connections between natural features (e.g., habitat corridors, feeding/breeding grounds) and human uses (e.g., shipping lanes, ports).

The BaltSeaPlan outlined 9 steps to MSP:

  1. Context assessment: delineate area, analyze legal framework, secure financial support
  2. Preplanning: coordinate teams, inform authorities
  3. Define aims and objectives
  4. Refine stock take: collect information on biodiversity and natural assets, map different uses on separate layers, identify conflict hotspots
  5. Problem analysis: create a matrix of current uses to identify conflict hotspots, conduct a socioeconomic analysis, model projections of existing trends into the future (e.g., climate change)
  6. Find solutions: delineate functional zones, set targets, draft scenarios
  7. Draft the plan: set final targets, develop management plan
  8. Implementation
  9. Monitoring and evaluation

The plan highlights the need to model existing trends into the future, and to incorporate climatic changes and impacts into those models. For example, modeling was used to quantify the separate and combined impacts of nutrient loading and changes in climate (e.g., temperature, salinity, and wind conditions) on phytoplankton, submerged aquatic vegetation, and benthic invertebrates. This information was used to assess changes in the spatial patterns of valuable habitats and associated biodiversity, and to inform the final management plan for the Baltic Sea region. Finally, the plan called for the development of multiple scenarios to address problems that include uncertainty, such as climate change or conflict hotspots. As part of this project, pilot MSPs were developed for eight areas: (1) Pomeranian Bight and Arkona Basin, (2) Western Gulf of Gdańsk, (3) Middle Bank, (4) Danish Straits, (5) Hiiumaa and Saaremaa Islands, (6) Pärnu Bay, (7) Lithuanian Sea, and (8) the Western Coast of Latvia. Several of these pilot plans call for the inclusion of climate information. For example, the plan for the Western Coast of Latvia identifies a need to create decision support tools on climate-related impacts on coastal erosion and sediment flow in order to support the identification of sites in need of management measures (e.g., beach replenishment, protection) that support resilient shorelines.


Kershner, J. & R.M. Gregg. 2017. BaltSeaPlan: Seven nations, one vision for an inland sea. Summary of a project of the Baltic Sea nations. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated February 2017)

Project Contact

Angela Schultz-Zehden 
[email protected]

Dr. Nico Nolte


Effort Stage
Habitat/Biome Type