Marine Spatial Planning in Washington
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Marine spatial planning (MSP) is a management tool that is increasingly being used around the country and world to coordinate decisions for coastal and ocean activities and environments in a comprehensive plan. MSP uses data on the location of important marine resources, human activities, and other key components to determine the most appropriate locations for particular uses to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives. The planning process often displays and analyzes this information using maps and other tools to inform the development of the plan. A variety of local, state, tribal and federal jurisdictions already manage many different aspects of marine uses and resources under a number of existing regulations and authorities in Washington. However, this traditional approach to management does not always comprehensively address overall health of our resources and uses in a coordinated and proactive manner. MSP is a process to improve and align decisions for marine waters in a comprehensive plan with common goals and shared outcomes and, as a result, can increase efficiency of decision-making across jurisdictions. It can also improve the ability for agencies to consider impacts to the whole system, rather than deal with them at a project level in reaction to particular proposals. A marine spatial plan can also integrate with existing management activities and help fill gaps in management. A plan will not, in itself, institute new regulations. Rather, a marine spatial plan can be implemented using existing regulations and authorities of agencies across local, state, tribal and federal jurisdictions.