Gold Rush or Pandora’s Box? Toward a Transparent and Measured Approach to Marine Spatial Planning in Portugal

in The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
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This article explores the new legal framework for marine spatial planning (msp) in Portugal. The main focus of the analysis is on the drivers of msp processes, the consideration given to existing vs. new uses, and on the evaluation of alternatives, based on the u.s. experience, with a focus on perceptions of u.s. msp practitioners. The Portuguese framework for msp may lead to favoring new uses over existing ones and defines ambiguous criteria for the selection of alternatives that are mostly financial in nature. The article draws attention to the potential environmental, social and economic risks of improperly addressing competing marine uses in the new Portuguese msp framework.




On 16 January 2015, a seminar was organized at fcsh—New University of Lisbon to discuss the current Portuguese legal framework for msp and particularly the Decree. Invited speakers from academia and civil society unanimously highlighted the document’s frailty and their apprehension concerning a number of aspects, including: the disconnect with the land planning system, conflict with the statutes of the autonomous regions, vagueness of some concepts, differential treatment given to activities and insufficient consideration of environmental issues. MA Ferreira, H Calado, C Pereira da Silva, AD Abreu, F Andrade, M Chantal Ribeiro, C Fonseca, E Gonçalves, J Guerreiro, F Noronha, M Pereira, C Pinto Lopes, Y Stratoudakis and L Vasconcelos, Relatório final do Debate Mar Português: Contributo para o Ordenamento Espacial (cics.nova/fcsh-unl e cibio/UAç. fcsh-unl, Lisbon, 2015) 1–25. Available at: Relatorio_Debate_Mar_Portugues.pdf; accessed 9 February 2015 [hereinafter Seminar Report]; Ibid., ‘Contributions towards maritime spatial planning (msp) in Portugal– Conference Report’ (2015) 59 Marine Policy 61–63.


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