Recommendations on the development & implementation of a data exchange network & infrastructure for MSP & Management purposes in the BSR

Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) has become a widely acknowledged tool for co-ordinating spatial use of the sea in the Baltic Sea Region. MSP is understood as a cooperative practice that involves several spatial and administrative levels. With regard to MSP purposes a stronger than so-far existing cooperation among data providers and the national authorities responsible for data collection is necessary in order to ensure that spatial information is easily accessible for planning purposes (incl. cross-border planning).

The INSPIRE Directive and the EC regulation No 268/2010 on Data and Service Sharing provide a very good basis for such cooperation – although however, many features of INSPIRE have not been implemented yet and marine space and maritime features so far are not adequately represented by INSPIRE data specifications. Numerous data base initiatives such as EMODnet, WISE Marine, European Atlas of the Seas, MyOcean and BOOS, EuroGOOS, ICES and IOC data exchange policies have followed. At the same time, there is no overall operative cooperation structure in the Baltic Sea Region yet, which would meet the specific needs of MSP.

The HELCOM/VASAB Working Group on Maritime Spatial Planning, which published Baltic Sea broad-scale MSP principles for achieving better coherence in the development of Maritime Spatial Planning systems in the Baltic Sea Region, emphasises the importance of a high quality data and information basis. Principle 6 states that “Maritime Spatial Planning should be based on best available and up to date comprehensive information of high quality that to the largest extent possible should be shared by all. This calls for close cooperation of relevant GIS and geo-spatial databases, including the HELCOM GIS, monitoring and research in order to facilitate a trans-boundary data exchange process that could lead to a harmonised pan-Baltic data and information base for planning. This base should cover historical baselines, present status as well as projects and future scenarios of both environmental aspects and human activities. It should be as comprehensive, openly accessible and constantly updated as possible and compatibility with European and Global initiatives should be ensured”.

The aim of these recommendations is to establish a pan-Baltic MSP data infrastructure which provides a transnational network for the exchange of MSP Data.

Taking into consideration all of the above, the BaltSeaPlan project partners recommend to commonly agree on a process, minimum requirements and performance criteria, which will be necessary to ensure the technical interoperability, up-to-dateness and completeness of MSP data sets, as well as the long-term availability and financial efficiency of the proposed data exchange structure.

The report outlining and describing an MSP data infrastructure and a respective data model, which has been developed under the BaltSeaPlan project (Report N° 20), may/could serve as reference document for further activities.