Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) consists in planning when and where to carry out human activities at sea in order to ensure that their efficiency and sustainability. MSP can be defined as a strategic, forward looking planning tool aimed at regulating and managing human activities and at protecting the marine environment, through the allocation of maritime uses. It addresses the multiple, cumulative and potentially conflicting uses of the sea, ideally through a series of long term plans at different spatial scales, focused around marine regions and using an ecosystem-based approach (Gilliland and Lafolley, 2008), as requested by the European Directive (2014/89/UE). It should involve all the relevant stakeholders in the correct way to make informed and coordinated decisions about how to use marine resources sustainably. In other words, MSP is a practical way to create and establish a more rational organization of the use of marine space and the interactions between its uses, to balance demands for development with the need to protect marine ecosystems, and to achieve social and economic objectives in an open and planned way (Ehler and Douvere, 2009).
The main characteristics of an MSP process are: limit the conflicts between the various sectors and create synergies between the different activities; encourage investments predictability, transparency and clearer rules; increase coordination between administrations in individual countries through the use of a single instrument for the development of a series of maritime activities, considerably simpler and lower costs; increase cross-border cooperation through a level of cabling, oil pipelines, spare routes, wind farms, etc.; protect the environment through the early identification of commitment and opportunities for a multi-purpose use of space.