Marine Spatial Planning Case Study

On Friday, February 17, Elizabeth Lucas will defend her master‘s thesis in Coastal and Marine Management. Her thesis is titled Challenges and Opportunities of Marine Spatial Planning Case Study of the Marine Planning Partnership in British Columbia, Canada.

The thesis advisor is Jamie Alley, M.Sc., Principal and Consulting Geographer at Jamie Alley and Associates and Lecturer at Department of Geography, University of Victoria. The external reader is dr. Sigríður Kristjánsdóttir, Assistant Professor at the Agricultural University of Iceland in Hvanneyri.


Coastal and marine managers are seeking out innovative planning tools in the face of rapid ocean development and changing environmental conditions. Marine spatial planning (MSP) offers a collaborative governance approach to apply ecosystem based management to ocean and coastal regions worldwide. However, merging the theoretical basis of MSP with its real world application has been limited to date. By assessment of emerging practitioner experience and academic literature on the tool, this research explores and identifies twelve challenges to MSP in a comprehensive analytical framework. The proposed analytical framework provides a directed approach to identifying the ability of an MSP to overcome the commonly identified challenges and was applied to a case study called the Marine Planning Partnership (MaPP) in the North Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Interviews and in depth review of the developed plans, found that MaPP has tackled incredible social, political and ecological complexities. Through a unique co-government structure between local First Nations and the Provincial Government, in many ways MaPP has succeeded in addressing the twelve challenges to MSP. However, through discussions, it is clear that the project still has weaknesses and faces many challenges ahead. Therefore, eight recommendations to the project have been identified to address these limitations as MaPP moves through implementation. In addition, lessons learned from this case study have been included to inform MSP practitioners and to bridge the theoretical practice of MSP with reality and to improve the field of ocean and coastal management.


Elisabeth Lucas will defend her thesis on Friday at 18:00.
Elisabeth Lucas will defend her thesis on Friday at 18:00.