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Revisiting Approaches to Marine Spatial Planning: Perspectives on and Implications for the United States


Marine spatial planning (MSP) offers an operational framework to address sustainable and well-planned use of ocean space. Spatial allocation has traditionally been single-sector, which fails to account for multiple pressures on the marine environment and user conflicts. There is a need for integrated assessments of ocean space to advance quantitative tools and decision-making. Using the example of offshore wind energy, this article offers thoughts about how MSP has evolved in the United States and how the varying scales of MSP achieve different outcomes. Finally, a review of quantitative and qualitative studies that are needed to support MSP are presented.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Alison W. Bates, PhD ■ University of Massachusetts Amherst160 Holdsworth Way, Amherst, MA 01003 – Phone: 413-545-1768 - Email:
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The author thanks Jeremy Firestone for useful comments related to this submission, reviewers for helpful suggestions, and participants in NAREA's 2016 workshop on the Economics of Changing Coastal Resources: The Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems for useful comments and insights.

This paper was presented at the workshop “Economics of Changing Coastal Resources: the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems” organized by the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association (NAREA) in Bar Harbor, Maine, June 21–22, 2016. The views expressed in this paper are the author's and do not necessarily represent the policies or views of sponsoring agencies.

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