Marine Spatial Planning

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Marine spatial planning is a process which manages human activity in the marine environment to achieve social, ecological, and economic objectives. At Shetland UHI, our expertise includes using the ecosystem approach to engage with local communities, fisheries, and public/private sector organisations in the management of the marine environment.

Marine spatial planning is a process which manages human activity in the marine environment to achieve social, ecological, and economic objectives. At Shetland UHI, our expertise includes using the ecosystem approach to engage with local communities, fisheries, and public/private sector organisations in the management of the marine environment.

Our research explores how scientific data can be used to underpin policies and decisions which recognise the value of economic, environmental, and social factors in maintaining a healthy marine environment. The Marine Spatial Planning team has led and contributed to a range of national and international projects to inform the development of marine planning and decision making. In Shetland, we have led the development of Shetland’s Regional Marine Plan, one of the longest running and most advanced plans in Europe.

To support decision making we have developed several GIS decision support tools to guide development (including aquaculture, oil and gas, and renewables), understand cumulative impacts, and identify high risk areas for non-native species.

We have also engaged with communities to understand the values and uses people place on the marine environment and engaged with communities to enable them to inform coastal and marine planning via data gathering and monitoring, including facilitating the creation of the Shetland Community Wildlife Group.

Our Expertise:

Marine spatial planning requires a multi-disciplinary approach and the expertise within the team range from seabed mapping, GIS mapping, invasive species monitoring, to policy development. The team works with government, industry and local communities to deliver a range of projects and services.

Our expertise and services include:

  • Providing advice and support to marine planners
  • Providing training in marine planning
  • Site location analysis for marine renewables, aquaculture, oil and gas, and master planning
  • Environmental assessments (HRA/EIA/SEA)
  • Seascape character assessment
  • Stakeholder and community surveys and engagement
  • GIS mapping
  • Hydro-acoustic and benthic surveying and mapping of Priority Marine Features
  • Invasive Non-Native Species monitoring

Our facilities are based in Scalloway, Shetland; a hub of marine research, innovation and education.