New Guide Offers Best Practices For Drafting Marine Spatial Planning Legislation

May 2020

(Washington, D.C.)— Countries are increasingly turning to marine spatial planning to assess and organize present and future uses of their ocean environments. While resources on how to create a marine spatial plan are plentiful, little attention has been paid to how countries can give their marine spatial plans the force of law. A new report from the Blue Prosperity Coalition, Designing Marine Spatial Planning Legislation for Implementation: A Guide for Legal Drafters, seeks to fill this gap, providing a starting point for the busy government lawyer who has been asked to “draft a marine spatial planning law.”

“In order for a marine spatial plan to be effective and enforceable, it must be incorporated into a country’s legislative framework,” explained Sofia O’Connor, an attorney with the Environmental Law Institute who was the lead author of the Guide. “Our Guide explains how to do that, and we hope that the information we provide helps government lawyers, policymakers, and all others involved in creating marine spatial planning legislation understand what’s needed and how to tailor those laws based on their countries’ needs, context, and legal frameworks.”

The Guide contains information about essential components and subcomponents of marine spatial planning legislation, describing each and highlighting its role and significance. The Guide also provides examples of provisions from existing marine spatial planning laws and regulations from around the world to illustrate the language and strategies used to address each component. In addition, it offers drafting tips for legal drafters.

The Guide stems from a September 2019 Blue Prosperity Coalition Marine Spatial Planning Legal Drafting Workshop in Aukland, New Zealand, that brought together experts from different countries to share their expertise and experience on topics relevant to marine spatial planning legislation.

This document was drafted on behalf of the Blue Prosperity Coalition by Sofia O’Connor with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), with help from Stephanie Oehler (ELI), Bruce Myers (Animals | Environment PLLC), and Jay Austin (ELI). Funding was provided by the Waitt Foundation.

Sofia O’Connor is available for interview.

Download the guide for free at:

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